Hollywood actresses casting couch
It’s sleazy. It’s sinful. It’s stuff of Hollywood legend. The infamous casting couch may be as old as cinema itself, and have names such as Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland embroidered on it, but its springs are still getting a regular workout.
In fact, casting directors who try it on during casting sessions have been lambasted by Hollywood’s latest sex symbol Megan Fox, star of this summer’s blockbuster movie Transformers.
“Any casting couch s**t I’ve experienced has been since I’ve become famous,” she told reporters while promoting the flick. “It’s really so heartbreaking. Some of these people! Like Hollywood legends. You think you’re going to meet them and you’re so excited, like, ‘I can’t believe this person wants to have a conversation with me,’ and you get there and you realise that’s not what they want, at all. It’s happened a lot this year actually.”
Mickey Rourke has also waded in and blasted Hollywood’s casting couch culture by insisting plenty of directors abuse their position to lure aspiring young actresses into the sack. He’s also fed up with seeing glamorous girls landing roles without ever auditioning.
“There’s definitely something called a casting couch,” he said candidly. “I did it the old- fashioned way: I went to acting school and broke my ass, studied hard. “
But while the casting couch may be the ultimate Tinseltown cliché and a potential launch pad to stardom, the sordid world that spirals around it is anything but glamorous.
In January, movie director and Academy Award-winning songwriter, Joseph Brooks was accused of using the lure of the audition to sexually assault at least four women at his home.
When aspiring actresses responded to an audition call, it is alleged Brooks (70) told them they would be playing a prostitute and would have them drink shots and perform sex acts on him, according to police investigating the incidents.
Just last month former beauty queen Claire Robinson sued International Creative Management (ICM) for $10m claiming one of its top talent agents subjected her to unwanted sexual advances.
Robinson alleges she was sexually exploited by the agent and was sent to auditions for roles that did not exist or that were unavailable to her.
The lawsuit aims to end a practice it calls “hip-pocketing,” whereby an agent takes an actress under their wing but never actually takes them on as a client.
The lawsuit claims it is this practice at ICM that led to the sexual exploitation of Robinson, who says “hip-pocketing” is an “inside joke” and “dirty secret” known by all within the entertainment industry.
ICM, who represents some of the biggest names in show business denies the claims and says it will “vigorously defend this action.”
But it is not just Hollywood that has secrets to hide.
In 2006 aspiring actress Zhang Yu waged a one-woman campaign against the use of the casting couch in China’s film industry by posting clips on the internet of herself having sex with famous directors. She then held a press conference to highlight that sex-for-roles is the standard hiring procedure in China.
In Bollywood things could even be worse. In 2004 India’s movie industry was rocked when young actress Preeti Jain filed a police complaint alleging film director Madhur Bhandarkar had promised her roles in exchange for sex over a six-year period.
A year later leading Bollywood actor Shakti Kapoor was filmed offering to promote the career of a young actress if she slept with him.
Back in Hollywood a TV special presented by Tyra Banks exposed how young actresses can all too easily fall prey to the casting couch.
An open casting for a fake TV project was set up by the show with an actor posing as the director. He privately arranged to meet with girls auditioning later that night in his room for a “solo” reading.
When confronted by Tyra and asked why she willingly went to the room, one girl simply said her instinct was overruled by the prospect of finally getting her big break.
So, it would seem in a world where celebrity is king and millions of wannabes are vying for their big break, the springs of the casting couch will be lubricated for some time to come.
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