"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Michael! You Shouldn't Have!

Oh, The Michael Zanuck Agency! Apparently, they also work on Sundays!

I just received a voicemail from one of their people:

Hi Lira
My name is  [redacted]  at MZA, the Michael Zanuck Agency, and Michael saw your picture on one of the acting websites online and asked me to contact you to discuss representation. If you are looking for representation, please email us a headshot and resume at bigchance@[redacted].com and we will call you after receiving it to set up an appointment time.
Thanks!

Okay. Here's why there's red flags:
1) It's MZA, the Michael Zanuck Agency.
2) They found me online and yet want me to email them a headshot an resume? Why? You know what I look like, and what my credits are. You could've either have bookmarked the location, or saved my picture to your own computer.
3) Your email. "BigChance?" Seriously? Come on! And it's not even at mzaagency.com - it's at a free email server.
4) You're calling me now. And you know what I look like. Why not schedule some time to meet me while you're leaving a voicemail? Isn't the way you're going about things rather inefficient for a business?
5) Calling on a Sunday? Agencies aren't open on Sundays.
6) Don't you know who I am? I already pretty much TRASHED YOU HERE when another actor asked me about you guys. In fact, when you google "Michael Zanuck Scam," my article is third on the list. Tsk Tsk.

But you do get bonus points for pronouncing my name correctly. Way to go!

70 comments:

  1. LOL Ah, Lira, always willing to throw someone a bone about her name.

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  2. I've just recieved the same email today from the Michael Zunuck Agency. So I did some research, I do see numerous posts regarding the scams, but his webiste displays working actors, why would this be the case?

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  3. HELLO.. I JUST RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM MZA AGENCY. MY QUESTION IS HAS ANYBODY ACTUALLY GONE IN FOR AN INTERVIEW? IF YES, PLEASE GIVE ME FEEDBACK ABOUT THE PROS N CONS.. THANKS..

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  4. Illuminated BlakeMay 25, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    MZA contacted me via that notorious, poorly written email still circulating in the annals of internet. I went on the first interview and can confirm all their peculiarities: the “No hand shaking” sign; their list of rules of conduct when interacting with King Michael; and the questionable phone conversations to casting directors. Whether the phone conversation was legitimate or not I have no way of knowing. All I know is that his assistant told me to come back with fifty 4 x 6’s so that Michael could peruse them. On the second meeting, I actually met with Michael and he chose a few shots that he liked but also found things to nit- pick. I just got these photos from a great photographer only two months ago but he still requested that I get a few more odd character looks: something nerdy with glasses and something goofy with a bright yellow t-shirt. I found it odd because no one, including myself, sees my personality in that light. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right? You want me to be a nerdy whack job? Sign me up! He recommended a photographer – John Manganiello – but I quickly countered with one that I knew personally who could give me a great deal. When he doubted the photographic quality for so low a price, I whipped out a photo this photographer had taken of my girlfriend. He liked the quality and agreed to submit me with my photographer. After that he asked me a few questions: “Where are you from? Do you have another job? Have you ever taken a commercial workshop?” I had not. After the small talk, he handed me a paper with the contact info of Daphne Kirby, a commercial acting coach. He would work with me as soon as I got the two new character looks and after I attended her workshop. That same day, I researched them on IMDB and was thrilled to discover that one of his clients is a highly respected student at and monitor of one of the best acting studios in this town. I called her immediately. She said that she booked her first two jobs with him but had no idea how he was commercially. Currently, though her relationship with him has fizzled; partly because of her interest in a writing project. After such good news, I immediately signed for the commercial class ($150) and had a wonderful learning experience; Daphne was great. Momentum building, I was on my way. I only needed two more shots, right? Well, not so fast. Something in my gut told me to wait before I proceeded to take new photos; to contemplate before I invest any more time and energy. As young, hungry, and highly trained actors we are so anxious that we may forget to listen to that voice within that whispers the best road to traverse at the fork. It was then that I began to research MZA and discovered this blog, among countless other negative posts at Backstage, Show fax, etc. My gut feeling: he takes kickbacks with the commercial – photographer game; he gets some – one person whom I know – of his clients work. As for me, well, whether I go the route of wacky characters and drop more money I don’t have remains to be seen. I am still standing at the fork.

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  5. I went in for an interview and was asked to come back for a 2nd. The office is way off the beaten path (Agoura Hills) nice area but very umm, quite for a Hollywood agency. Whatever the case I met with Michael. He gave me a list of people I should take classes with as well as photographers I should sign up with for... you guessed it, character shots with quirky glasses, hippy / NYC chick, sporty shots and several types of headshots, smiling and serious for each of the looks and more. That's a lot of looks (and a lot of money) for one shoot. Never the less I did the shoot with a well known celebrity photographer for a great price and got fabulous photos! (If you use StudioUte.com mention "Michele" to them for a discount rate!) I am sure I will get more offers for representation with these new shots. As for the classes he recommended I opted instead to "visit" a few on camera and commercial cold reading classes before signing up. None of which were Michael's referrals. I'm not into the kick back scene and will stray away from it if I feel "pushed". I did call one guy Michael recommended that supposedly gets people SAG cards. Hmm, needless to say that never panned out. I did send Michael the new photos and he asked me to get 10 copies of each look (at a Walgreens for like .20 cents a piece), and to make an appointment with him when I get these. In business there is really no harm in getting kickbacks, in these economical times this has become more common because people share clients. If you've ever operated a business you know this is completely legitimate. If anyone has had a good experience with the Zanuck Agency I urge you to post it here. As for me, after reading this blog I will probably keep my options open. For the record.. I have met some real creepy creeps in my time (I'm a native New Yorker) and pride myself on being able to spot a scammer a mile away, ( and absolutely when I sit in from of him or her). Michael Zanuck did not strike me as being someone who is completely ruthless nor did he strike me as some sort of creep. When I inquired with Casting Networks they said a lot of their clients are signed to the Zanuch Agency and that they have not received any bad reports. You be the judge for yourself.

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    1. He DOES take a kick back. Brought down his sister's agency years back. The Bigley Agency. Also ripped off his partner Jerry Pace. Took thousands from actors with his go to photographer. Changed his name to Zanuck to sound cool. I could go on...ANY time there is the SLIGHTEST hint of a scam...run

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  6. Michael Zanuck is a really good guy. I hate to hear people talk bad about him when they don't even no him!

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    Replies
    1. You spelled "know" wrong.

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  7. The only people talking badly about him are those who have actually met him. Interesting, isn't it?

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  8. I've been with MZA for 6 months and I haven't been sent out on one single audition! my phone calls are ignored or dropped when I M PUT ON HOLD EVERY TIME I CALL THE OFFICE! I enjoyed Daphne Kirby and felt her class to be necessary for me because I'm not a commercial actress and he is only representing me commercially. I do find it odd that I didn't have to audition for him and that I I have more film and television credits and no commercial credits yet he insists on only representing me commercially. He was pleased with the headshots I came in with but i had to join a website which seems to serve no purpose because I haven't been sent out once! nobody even responds to me E-MAILS!! it's embarrassing

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  9. I feel bad for you but I'm with MZA and I've been going out alot lately. Why do you call them? Let them do their job. Their always nice when I call. Blame casting not MZA for you not going out, all they can do is submit you. I'm very happy with MZA!

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    1. You spelled "They're" wrong.

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    2. Actually "their job" is spelled correctly. t
      Their is the possessive
      They're means they are. It is a contraction.

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    3. "their always"

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    4. hahahahhahhahahaa

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  10. I request that all Anonymous Commenters praising MZA use their real name to prove you're not an assistant in their office with the task of defending them on the internet.

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    1. Hey Lira,

      Don't force people to out themselves, what's wrong with you? Just because you feel free to publicly bash, doesn't mean anyone else has to publicly do anything.

      I've worked in casting. I'm an actor. I still help out in casting offices to this day. Yes I still audition for co-stars. On both sides, in casting and as an actor, I've seen Michael Zanuck actors sign in a lot. These are small roles, yes, but these are roles a gazillion actors would give a leg to audition for. 2 liner on Modern Family, small guest spot on a pilot, pre-read for a big feature film. That kinda stuff.

      Michael Zanuck has a lot of very interesting character actors. Actors that aren't that "cool" to represent to the hotshot, young agent at a better name talent agency. They may not work all the time. But when casting is looking for a 6'5" 250lbs grizzly mountain man, who has a couple of those types? Michael Zanuck. Asian Tranny? Michael Zanuck has them and they love dressing like that. You look at these character actors' resumes and they work far more than most model looking actors I run into. And they work forever. They may work only several times a year, but how often does the average 20 something actor work? 1-2 times a year, if that, on professional on-screen projects.

      Last time I saw several Michael Zanuck actors during a casting session was October, 2012 for a union, cable tv show. Look, as an actor I want to hate them too because I have had friends do those ridiculously headshot sessions with their referrals that cost them $550 back in 2007, but I see their actors in auditions. I even see their commercial actors at the smaller auditions (regional, hard to find character nationals perhaps).

      Hey commercial actors, the casting directors in commercials tend to only pick actors from the top and second tier agency. Unless you have a distinct character look, your chances of being seen for any good paying commercial are very slim. Iceball's chance in hell.

      So my two cents are: Michael Zanuck is decent theatrically if you are starting out and need credits or you are truly a character agent. For commercials, I'd say no unless you are desperate for a filler agent until you can get a better one. Don't do their headshot person if you can, unless you like their style. Take headshots with the person you really like, so you can pitch yourself with those pictures after you leave MZA.

      Trust me on this stuff people even though I'm anonymous. I mean I've seen their actors live in the room and they do just as good of a job as any other actor at the level.

      Thanks Lira for keeping the conversation going. This stuff really helps us actors, because there's no real guide book for this stuff. Happy New Year!

      Delete
  11. I have been signed with Mza for awhile..I have only had a few auditions....to put it all in a nutshell I know someone who has worked for him....this is the jist. They are a scam in the sense of his "Recommended" photographers...he is definitely getting a spiff. They do have real clients I went on a good audition that was sag. However, they prey on people from the midwest because they all have a dream....Hilarious how these a-holes sleep at night. I will use them just like they use me. I mean if I finally do get booked on something than I do if not oh well. However, there is always other agencies. I feel bad for these poor midwest people.

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  12. Hello everybody, just wanted to say I've been crazy busy. So many auditions, I love MZA! I'm not from the Midwest i'm from the south so life is great for me ! Andy!

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  13. What's your last name, "Andy"? I don't buy you for a second.

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  14. I'm not gonna say anything bad about anyone. But if you don't book one of your three auditions, then mza won't send out on audtions anymore, unless you would be requsted by casting office. As far as headshots, yes I don't trust mza. If you don't get call from any agency in six months don't waste your time look somewhere else. ANONYMOUS

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  15. If MZA stops sending you out after 3 non-booked auditions then they aren't worth anything. If you are not a name in LA then it's a pure numbers game. You have to be sent out on enough auditions with casting to develop a relationship with them. If they don't do this they are not doing anything for you.

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  16. Hi Lira it's Andy, just booked a national commerical threw MZA. Damn Michael is good, I love my agent. MZA all the way!!!!

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    1. You spelled "through" wrong.

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    2. I don't need to spell, I love money and I can count like a motherfucker!!!!! Andy! I love going back and fourth with you losers because my great agent has me loaded with cash. Ha Ha Ha Ha all the way to the bank!!!

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  17. Hey Andy, can you please stop trolling here? You're not fooling anyone and no one cares.

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  18. Wow, it's a great day to be Andy. Doing a Hahn beer commerical today all because of MZA. I don't know what planet this chic Lira lives on but here on earth Michael Zanuck is my hero because he made me a working actor. What are you?? It's in the title of this hater blog! Go MZA!!!!!

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  19. Like I said, Andy, no one cares. Anymore comments like this and I'll delete them. I get notified the minute you post one.

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  20. How does Andy have time to 'lurch' if hes going to an audition today? hmmm!

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  21. "Andy" you sound like a cheerleader not a real person, thats why Lira or me or I doubt anyone believes you, it sounds like someone at the agency put you up to this. or you work there

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    1. I see this Andy guy on TV everyday, I would be a cheerleader too if I was making his kind of money!

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  22. That's not cool you broke fi-core bitch you. I can't believe your Fi core wow you that's low.

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  23. I think I'm going to leave your comment up here for a day, Anon 11:50. When you can form proper sentences, and not swear, I think people will take what you have to say more seriously. Would you like to try again with why you are calling me a bitch? Also, use your name. I use mine.

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    1. Your name is stay at home Bitch!!!! Cause that's what you do!!!

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  24. Lira wow fi core is not cool, you are working against dues paying real actors like Andy so stop blogging and pay some dues!

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  25. Okay, Andy, let me tell you something. I know who you are. You're a good looking, tall AA young man, and I ask that you do me a favor and go to
    http://freeheadshotadvice.info/
    and see what casting director Billy DaMota has to say about your headshots. It's free. He's a real casting director.
    Because I think he's going to agree with me that your headshots say a certain thing about you, which is not going to be very good.

    I don't know why you keep railing against me and try to lift up your agent. Be with your agent. He is working for you! And if there are people saying he might not be right for them, why fight them on it? I'm not a tall African American 18 to look younger man like you are. I'm a white girl. There are a million of me in LA and I didn't think your agent could work for me and others in my category. He seems to make a lot of money off ethnic actors who are needed for specific ethnic bit roles. That's FINE. But it's not for me.

    Go on about your day, take your classes, book your commercials and love your agent. More power to you. But to go and troll on the internet makes absolutely no sense.

    I have posted an honest and fair article about him, and others who have interviewed with him shared their stories. This is information for others to find if they choose to do so.

    And you just make your case look worse and worse by insulting me, and constantly cheerleading for you agent. Just go about your business and be thankful and happy that your agent gets you out. Hey, less competition from others within the agency, if he has fewer clients, right?

    Have a good day.

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    1. So did the big time casting director, who cast America's most wanted agree that the Andy kid would book all that Big work ? I mean Kellogg and Kayak are pretty big jobs right?

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  26. Oh.. For God's Sake.... Michael Zanuck has been in the Biz forever... His clients have booked roles in some very big movies! I'm a working visual artist, actor and producer. Michael Zanuck never asked me for money or insisted that I patron a certain business. Also... If he's not sending you out.. um.. you might not be that marketable..

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  27. Hello all,
    reading all of your comments are placing me in a pickle. I have very good theatrical representation KSR. but I need commercial rep so bad that I am desperate. I hate being scammed or taken advantage of, I do not want to be feeling like I am starting all over again.
    i just met with MZA today and I was told the same thing: get new headshots and I was given a list of recommended photographers. I do feel like I am wasting my time and that they seem like a joke. When I met with him, who knows if I was being brainwashed or not, but I think I want to sign with him. then I come here and think, oh no, I am being an idiot and I shouldn't. Like Lira, I am a young white female who looks like one thousand others. This sucks. I am sick of it, I am sick of being broke, i want to give up so many times and I don't want to be dicked around.
    so I am still standing at the fork as well as Blake and I just want someone to spell it out for me. "yes" he is a good agent or "no" he is just like john robert powers STAY AWAY... ay ay ay.... I am almost done trying, this business is too freakin hard.
    I do find it rather strange that MZA contacted me... since when do lefit agencies to that???
    PEACE

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  28. Hey Cortney,

    Take heart. Commercial agencies add new clients all summer long. Research the good ones and submit. If you don't get called in three weeks, submit again. And again. They'll bring you in by September, so keep submitting.

    And from my auditions and callbacks, I see a lot of people repped by KSR for commercials. Have you spoken to them about commercial representation?

    Best of luck.

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    1. But what the fuck have you booked with these callbacks??? I book all my stuff, ask Michael about Andy!

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  29. I can't stand fi core FAKE actors, pay dues or get the fuck out of the union!! And for the haters MZA is the best!!

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  30. Hey Anon, you might want to do your research. Fi-Core actors DO pay their full union dues, and this has absolutely nothing to do with the post. Troll again and I'll delete it.

    And again, not using your name, swearing, and then praising MZA gives you absolutely no credit or standing.

    In fact, why don't you go show your agent these posts and then ask him if he still wants you to post hateful messages like the one above. I bet he won't.

    Look at Tommi Trudeau's comment up there. THAT's how you help bring balance and make what you say carry weight.

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    1. You started this shit, now finish!!!

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  31. Hey lira I forgot to tell you about my real job, I'm a pimp and I can get paid off your ass! Leave you agent and meet me downtown so I can put your ass on the stroll bitch! Pimp game ho!!

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  32. So I'm going to leave your comment up here cause it's hilarious!

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    1. Thanks for leaving my comment, I love entertaining all the none working actors that watch me live my dream!! MZA # 1

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  33. Lira,
    This is Carlos Sanchez and I want to apologize for my unprofessional manner. I was repped by MZA when I lived in LA. I am moving back to LA from Houston.He does recommend photographers and i dont really like his taste in headshots I collaborate with him. I am a trained actor and have went on major auditions that a mid level agent would get. I can understand why people would get that impression from him. I can honestly say that if you show strong potential he will work hard to get you work. We are all on the same journey so i am here to give honest input and knowledge from personal experience. Its entirely up to whoever is contemplating signing with him if he is the right agent for you. I just want to give Michael Zanuck an honest evaluation. He does recommend coaches and photographers and maybe maakes kickbacks but all agents do, sort of like a concierge at a hotel.I personally have told Michael ok ill look into it but i go my own route on training and he said "Well wherever your training your booking" so actors need to have a backbone and self worth to disagre because at the end we are the CEO's of our acting career. So Lira i want to make peace and i would ber happy to answer anything you would like.

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  34. Hi Carlos,

    Thank you so much for your comment, and I accept your apology.

    (I also know, based on your grammar, that you are not the one leaving the nastier posts above.)

    I think the most important things you said were that if you show strong potential, he'll work hard for you, and also that we actors need to have a backbone and self worth to disagree with what our agent might ask of us. You're right; we are the CEO's of our acting career.

    Thank you, Carlos, for taking the time to offer such a balanced and thoughtful evaluation of your time with MZA.

    I, as well as my readers, appreciate it.

    I wish you even more continued success.

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  35. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0891825/resume

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  36. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0129415/resume

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  37. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0681919/resume

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  38. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0515225/resume

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  39. i believe those last 4 posts should answer a lot of questions,, sorry to disappoint you Lira,,
    have a great day..

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  40. I'm not disappointed as I have no vendetta against anyone signed with the agency.

    I Do, however, have a problem with what other people have said about the agency selling SAG vouchers to them, as this is completely illegal.

    Maybe if more of his clients book, they won't have to try to sell Sag vouchers to non-union hopefuls...

    I'm glad that this post has become a place where actors can go and get some info on the agency. It is up to the individual actor what they do with that information.

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  41. They spelled Barry Livingston's name wrong on the home page off the website. I'll pass.

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  42. MZA contacted me through LA Casting. Asked me to come in. I promptly replied that I need to reschedule. Never got a reply. 4 emails later, still no reply. Sort of a red flag, unprofessional at the least. Recommending coaches or photographers could be a red flag, it really depends on how bad the actor's headshot is. I am an on camera Instructor/an Actor/ a Director and once was a Manager for over 100 clients and have seen very many hilariously bad headshots. Recommending is ok, insisting is not. Being so far out of town is also a bit of a red flag, but less so in the computer age. Samual French book store has a number of good resources regarding agents. Good place to look them up and get an idea of what is up. MZA web site says he uses the (expired) SAG Agent Contract. That much is good. Avoid the GSA (General Service Agreement)at all cost. I have listed some free industry advice at http://hollywoodand.newsvine.com/ - regarding Reels, Scams, etc. Solidarity! Tony Stengel

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  43. I need to add that what I meant by "insisting" is in regards to who the actor gets headshots with. Insisting that an actor has professional headshots and resume before agreeing to represent them is is not only fine but expected. I would avoid working with any agency that accepts clients with unprofessional headshots. Means they are either a scam or dangerously uneducated (industry wise), also Casting Directors get a feel real fast with what agencies they respect and you can find yourself guilty (and not called in) by association! You have one chance to make a first impression and that is what your pic/rez is!

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  44. Hello, I'm Michael Delgado, and here is my input. You can see my lacasting resume here:: http://cni2.lacasting.com/talent/profile/264431?rs=1&crypt=dicgliaifpggfglfgbdhdlilkdlgkknipenplmndaboikigl

    Michael Zanuck was my first Theatrical Agent. I was already SAG and had a Commercial Agent when I signed with him. I went for an interview after sending out self submissions seeking representation and ZPP was one of the handful of Agencies that got back to me. My initial interview definitely had some similarities to a lot of the ones described here. I was told I'd need to add some new pictures to my portfolio and was given some photographer referrals. Actually the pictures that I had at the time really weren't of a great quality and they weren't tailored to the specific style of business that this agency typically handles. They thrive with 'character talent' and practice on the success they've had using pictures that show their actors with distinct character attributes. I was wary at first, but proceeded. I went through my own avenues to get some affordable pictures following the advice I was given by Michael, and they turned out Great! He was very satisfied with them and we began working together as I decided to sign with ZPP instead of my other options.

    I actually went out A Lot theatrically with Michael. Usually for those very 'character style' roles I described, like for a Street Kid or a Cheeseball Office Worker. Around that time the Commercial Agency I was with was going out of business and ZPP took me on Commercially as well. Again, I started going out A Lot more commercially than I had ever before, and I began booking stuff. I got along SO well with my Commercial Agent, but my personal feelings about my relationship with Michael Zanuck weren't as friendly. I felt he was Always very brusque with me, never seeming like he had more than 30 seconds to talk. He was short and curt, but I wouldn't describe it as overly rude. Sometime thereafter, the agency split up, and I was given a choice as to which side I'd like to stay with, and I chose the side of my Commercial Agent who I was quite close with and had just booked some commercials for. I've always felt happy with my decision, although I've never gone out theatrically as much as I did when I was with Michael Zanuck.

    I hope I'm able to give some people some different insight and perspective here for the decisions that they'll make.

    And in some final, personal thoughts on some of the topics discussed here::

    Pictures are a HUGE deal when you're trying to get Auditions. It doesn't matter how FANTASTIC of an Actor you are, its the pictures that get you in the room. The more Tools (variety of great pictures, reels, and talents) that you can supply your agent with, the better their odds are of getting you out on an audition. I don't think it can ever hurt you to take More pictures or practice your skills in Classes. Investing in yourself is how you invest in this career.

    Being Non-Union is a big hindrance to get you work on SAG projects, which all well-paying Theatrical work is. It doesn't mean you Cannot get the casting directors to see you for these projects, it just means that its much more unlikely that you'll be cast in the part, and many agencies will not consider looking at you unless you're already in the Union or better yet, SAG Eligible. Which gives you the opportunity for Non-Union and SAG jobs. There are Non-Union projects for agents to submit on, but they are low paying so don't give as much incentive for submissions. Keep in mind 10% of a $150 job is $15 bux. Becoming SAG is one of the biggest hurdles an actor has to overcome in this business. I got mine in the trenches, doing years of Extra Work. And I've seen so many crazy stories of how people have accomplished it. Though definitely shady, paying someone for a voucher is an example of the extreme lengths some people will go to accomplish the task. It's certainly not something I recommend.

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  45. Lira, Thank you for writing these blogs about MZA! I appreciate you taking the time to warn other actors of scams in LA. It's very obvious that all the positive comments about MZA are fake! I don't have the best grammar, but when I received an email from MZA I could tell right away it wasn't a professional agency. Why would anyone want to be represented by an agency that can't even spell or write a letter in properer format? There are too many people being taken for granted in LA and you should always do your research. Also anyone who is truly happy with an agency wouldn't attack someone for telling their story. Also they would proudly tell us who they are or give a link to their IMDB page. I think it is shameful that the person up there is attacking you on your blog and they are making their 'agency' look even less credible! I wish everyone success with their careers! xo Jamie

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  46. First, I'm not going to leave my name because there will always be some people who will abuse the information - especially if it's a hot topic such as this one.

    Regarding MZA and Michael Zanuck. I have been with the agency for three years and this is MY experience.

    1) I have been sent out on, and booked, more good theatrical roles in the past three years with MZA than in the ten years with my other agent - most recently three weeks on a film with Academy Award winning stars and a guest star role on a hit comedy.

    2) Although I just did a super bowl commercial, I have been sent out on less commercials with MZA than with my former agency - but they were mainly a commercial agency, so ... no surprise.

    3) Michael does not suffer fools gladly. I ask but one question: How do we know that the people complaining about Michael are not flakey actors? You know, the ones without decent headshots, who are not in a class, and are not being proactive about their careers? And yet they expect their agent (whoever he or she is), to "get them work." Just because they say that they are "serious" actors doesn't always mean they are.

    4) Okay, Michael can have a rather brash way about him. And yes, he is VERY opinionated when it comes to headshots. But if you have headshots that you know work, and you exhibit self-confidence about them, he will be willing to give them a try.

    5) Lastly, although everyone is entitled to an opinion about an agent, CD, director, etc., no one has the right to make false accusations about someone. Simply saying "In my opinion" does relieve you of the responsibility of being fair. Look at this guy "Jamie" above. He says, "It's very obvious that all the positive comments about MZA are fake!" Excuse me, and you know that how? Give me some facts, please.

    Is Michael for me? Yeah - he answers or returns all my calls very quickly, he gets me out (although I'd always like to get out more), and he's never tried to "scam" me.

    Is Michael for you? Maybe not. But maybe instead of trying to damage someone's reputation who is not the agent for you, you could go out and get that fantastic agent - the one who will take all your calls, listen to all your complaints, and be your teacher, mentor, friend, and therapist - oh, and get you staring roles on everything you want.

    An actor.

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  47. I have been working for the past year as a background actor. My previous training (theater-related) was many years ago. I use LA Casting to look for background work while I study acting for the camera. So, I'm not seriously looking for any representation until I have completed a lot more training and have more to offer.

    Yet, with my zippo resume and headshots alone, I got a sloppy email from an intern at MZA wanting me to let them know if I'm interested in representation. My immediate response was NO for the reasons stated above. But I couldn't help wondering why they'd be interested, so I did a quick Google search, and the answer is apparent.

    The guy sounds like a sleazy kickback taker. I'm sure along the way that being with him works out for a few.

    If anyone is familiar with OnTrack Casting in Hollywood, they are scum at the bottom of the barrel. They are extraordinarily unprofessional, illiterate, and send all of their background actors to get headshots from Hollywood Pro Photography. Their website is riddled with errors. They're a joke. Yet, I do know people who've gotten work from them. That doesn't mean they're not horrible.

    And from everything I've read, I wouldn't go near Michael Zanuck with a ten-foot pole. I'm VERY glad this agency emailed me. I will be warning my fellow actors.

    Thanks for a great blog.

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    Replies
    1. Stay in the back ground you loser!!!

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  48. my experience was the same as most of the comments above. Was contacted by email through LAcasting. Came in for a 1st interview (weirded out by the "No Hand-shaking sign" and briefly met with a not-so welcoming lady (later to learn she is Mr. Zanucks wife). My headshots are indeed bad, but thought it strange that she asked nothing about my experiences in acting and actually suggested lying about my acting experience on my resume. I gave her my professional resume which lists extremely notable directors I have worked post-production for, but again she had no interest. She asked if i could come back on a saturday to meet with Mr. Zanuck himself. Said NO that I have a work commitment on a feature i am doing production design for, and she said she would get back to me on a different day to come back in. I met with Mr. Zanuck last week and told to get new headshots and take a class to try in get into SAG. The office building was not looking in it's best shape, and all the movie posters he has signed on his wall DONT HAVE ANY recognizable names that "thank him for excellent work". THIS PLACE IS SHADY SHADY SHADY! DO NOT GET INVOLVED EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMS ENTICING. SCARY TO THINK YOU ARE BEING SET-UP AND PREYED UPON FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

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  49. As I read everyones post, I have to laugh at you who bitch & complain More than likely, I bet that no matter what agency you were with, you would not be going out on auditions because if you seriously think that you don't need training and proper headshots and think because he is asking that you do these things he's a scam. MZA may not be known for having "Star" names, but they do have working actors. Michael is very specific about the looks he wants and knows how he wants to market his clients. I don;'t think he'd be in business for as long as he has if he was just a scam artist. Also, when you put out such negative vibes, guess what, they will come right back to you.

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  50. I'm going for my interview tomorrow. I hope it goes well , my national ads have been running for months so headshots and lessons are not an issue for me. If Michael had brought me on in '08 when I first interviewed we'd both making money right now. I guess he felt at the time there were actors with more talent than I have. Of course the commercial acting business has changed a great deal in four years and I am the beneficiary of these great changes. Also working should trump talent in this economy. If one more famous long ago actor that hasn't had a job in 20 years tells me how loaded with talent he is and shouldn't I be in those classes just for the abuse I can take tells me I don't have talent I'll scream. In any case having a national opens doors and I know I can do for Michael what I've done for myself this time on the theatrical side. To submit to breakdown services is a hope I never though I'd have.

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  51. The Truth

    Okay so this will probably be the last post on this fantastic blog, besides a maybe a bunch of thank you's.
    The truth about the MZA agency is this: It's a scam but not really. It's a scam if your a broke actor and am basically living job to job. (Which is over half of us.) Its only real if you have the cash to spare. In short terms their bussiness is a little shady at first but the do send you out on real jobs, and if your good you will keep getting booked. The problem is steps before that in which they will make you retake your headshots from one of the their photographers.
    Shady Thing #1
    He will tell you he wants you to get 4-5 character shoots done. To me personally this really isn't shady as everybody thinks. I've seen first hand how casting directors weed out actors. They start out seeing if you fit the character that are looking for. Yeah I know "DUH". But going for a role where your an evil drug lord, EMT, or whatever it helps a ton when you already look like the role described in the breakdown. But he is recommending to people he is in good status with. Meaning he gets a cut for actor he sends to them. Again to me not to shady.
    Then comes the part where he will say you would do great commercially. (Which is the most work he gets) so he tell to take a commercial class.

    Shady Thing #2
    Same as before. He is recomending you to someone and getting a cut from it. I do count this as shady because not everybody needs it. In fact really no one does. Unless you just dont know how to be a charming person or at least "act" like it. Yeah sure the class does give you some good pointers, but it's really nothing you can't do with out. Especially when it's around $150-$200.
    Okay so here's the big part the ball buster. He will ask the most obvious question of all time. (Well for a Non-Union actor) Do you want to be Union?/ What are you doing to become Union? " Ah duh of course I do and everything I can! So then he will say....
    Shady Thing #3
    "I have way to Taff-Hartley you in." He will then recommend, (He does a lot of recommending) you to a woman that will feature you in a webisode series or a short film, depends. But all for a fee. Now this fee includes that fact that you won't be getting paid for the webisodes you do. No your paying to be in it. You won't really be featured to much either just a few lines here and there. But all of that to get you SAG eligible for $1200, in cash. Bam that's it. Now it's time for you to decide based on everything I told you. If already in a Union I'd advise you to stay away. But if not it could be the opening you've been looking for. (if you have the cash) But please remember this (and I'm seriously being honest) you are not special. They didn't just pick to give you a call cause they saw your photo out 1000 and just had to have you. No you are #687 down out of the list they are contacting. And they are calling the full 1000. In hopes of some going through with it paying for each shady thing I mentioned.

    But I want to end this post and hopefully the entir blog on a happy note. Even though you are nothing special to them at first you can be. If you take this path to hopefully pry open that tightly shut Hollywood door then go full force at it. If you have faith in yourself to be a great actor/actress, then you will be. Never give up you show them or any agency that you do sign with that you are the best. It takes guts to peruse this career head on and takes even more to not give up on it. If you believe in you , then I believe in you, we will all believe in you. Good luck my fellow actress/actor. I hope to work with you on set one day.

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  52. Andy Earnest Spencer
    That's what you get for being rude.

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  53. No reputable agency charges for representation, but the agent may recommend steps that will cost money, especially when talent is starting out. An agency may suggest new photos or training, and may have good contacts for new talent. An advantage of having an agent is that agents will help choose the best photographers or shots to make into headshots, etc. However, new artists are encouraged to be wary of any financial investment involving pre-sale tickets to shows that do not involve national headliners, "battle of the bands" pyramid schemes with deceptive "prizes" (such as a "record deal" with a non-recognized label or company, usually one owned by the scam agency) or other pay-to-play practices. When signing with an agency which also offer photography and workshops, talent is advised to see proof of past bookings, such as client lists and current models tearsheets from booked work. If an agency covers upfront costs, it is reimbursed for all expenses after the talent begins work.

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Play nice.