In a complaint filed earlier this week, a group of Broadway producers accused various Broadway casting companies of “band[ing] together to form a casting cartel, enlisting the help of the Teamsters to force Broadway producers to engage in collective negotiations.” The Broadway League, representing the producers, notes that “the market for casting services is highly concentrated” but that “competition for casting services has been robust, forcing prices down.” According to the complaint:
The anticompetitive effects this conduct has had – and will continue to have for decades to come, if not stopped now – are profound. Broadway producers rely on price competition among casting companies to control costs, especially for productions in development. Most shows fail to see a Broadway stage, and many that do close their doors not long after. Almost 80% never see a dime of profit. Controlling costs can make the difference between shows that audiences have a chance to see – with a shot at becoming a hit – and shows that are nothing more than a producer’s abandoned dream. By eliminating price competition among casting companies – and adding potentially tens of thousands of dollars to the developmental costs of a show – the casting cartel disserves the Broadway community and ultimately reduces the broad range and diversity of shows that ever see the light of day. Actors and audiences will be the ultimate losers if this cartel is allowed to go on.
The complaint alleges that the casting companies sought to circumvent antitrust laws by signing up their casting directors as members of the local Teamsters union, and then having the Teamsters negotiate as their representative. The producers argue that these casting directors are employees of their respective casting companies, and are only hired by the producers as independent contractors.
The complaint contains a single claim for Sherman Act antitrust violations, and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
The case is currently pending before Judge Woods.