PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A group came to Pittsburgh where they held so-called auditions over the weekend.
The last time they came to town, KDKA-TV got lots of complaints from parents who signed up only to find out stardom would cost them thousands.
So this time, KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin went undercover with his kids, Sophia, Chloe and Vince along with his wife, Kristine, to the Wyndham Hotel.
Marty videotaped it with a handheld camera. They had a 6 p.m. appointment for what’s called “The Event.”
The ad on local radio stations says: “If your kids want to be on the Disney Channel or a blockbuster like “The Last Song” or “Eclipse,” be one of the first 200 callers right now.”
Hundreds turned out and filled the ballroom for five so-called “casting calls.” The Griffin family never made it past the door.
Staffer: “I’m with The Event.”
Marty Griffin: “I’m with a local TV station here in town.”
Staffer: “Okay. Well, you’re not allowed to be here. I can walk you out.”
He asked the staffer about the wording of their radio ads.
Marty Griffin: “Do you promise folks parts in movies?”
Staffer: “We don’t promise anybody anything. We have no guarantees.”
He asked her about a brochure which asks parents to pay anywhere from nearly $2,000 to more than $8,000 to participate in so-called acting, modeling and singing showcases.
Marty Griffin: “Do you misrepresent yourselves do you think?”
Staffer: “No. Can you please turn off the camera?”
The woman then walked over and grabbed the brochure from Marty’s 6-year-old daughter’s hands.
Staffer: “I’m gonna take these materials. Okay, good luck.”
Marty Griffin: “You don’t think it’s a rip-off?”
Staffer: “No, I absolutely do not, but I need you to leave now.”
The event has had problems in other states. The Connecticut Attorney General ordered them to pay families back. The St. Louis Better Business Bureau warned the public before the event came to town.
Even those who saw through the pitch and kept their money are angry.
“What it was advertised to be is not what it is,” Paul Kennedy, of Pittsburgh, said. “I thought … the Disney name being used that they were affiliated somehow with Disney and apparently not.”