By:  James Kachmar

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB1660 into law. Introduced by Assembly Member Nora Campos, AB1660 amends the Labor Code to require certain people working with minors in the entertainment industry to apply for a Child Performer Services permit and submit to a criminal background check. The bill also prohibits registered sex offenders from working with minors in the entertainment industry and imposes criminal sanctions for violation of its provisions.

Reasons for AB1660’s Passage:

AB1660 was supported by numerous entertainment groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. According to the Los Angeles Times, two former child actors, Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges, testified before the California legislature that they had each been molested by men in the entertainment industry. In late 2011, a longtime talent manager was arrested on suspicions of child molestation and a film casting associate was arrested for failing to inform authorities that he had previously been convicted of child molestation and abduction. (See Dawn Chmielewski, “Two Former Teen Idols Back Bill to Protect Child Actors”, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 18, 2012.) AB1660 was intended to increase protections for child artists.

What AB1660 Does:

Existing California law requires anyone who intends to operate a talent agency to obtain a license from the Labor Commissioner. (Labor Code § 1700.5.) The application for such a license requires two sets of fingerprints and two affidavits from reputable citizens attesting to the applicants good moral character. (Labor Code § 1700.6.) The Labor Commissioner then has the right to conduct an investigation the applicant to determine whether a talent agency license should be issued. (Labor Code § 1700.7-1700.8.)

AB1660 broadens existing law by requiring that certain people who wish “to represent or provide specified services” to any minor in the entertainment industry be required to first obtain a “Child Performer Services” permit from the Labor Commissioner. (See new Labor Code §1706.) The new law is intended to cover those persons who work unsupervised with minors in the entertainment industry and defines the “specified services” to include: (1) photography (still, video or film); (2) career management and/or counseling; (3) public relations activities; and (4) instruction, evaluation or teaching of acting, singing, dance, voice or similar services.

To obtain a permit, an applicant must submit fingerprints and other information to the Labor Commissioner so that the Department of Justice can perform a background check. The Child Performer Services permit must be renewed every two years. The Labor Commissioner is required to maintain a list of all people issued Child Performer Services permits and make that list available to the public on its website.

Penalties for Violating AB1660:

AB1660 prevents anyone, including licensed talent agents, from providing representation or services to minors in the entertainment industry if they are a registered sex offender. Any person who willfully violates this new law is subject to a $10,000 fine and up to one year in jail for each violation. In addition, any person who is injured by a violation of this new law can bring a civil action against the violator for monetary damages and injunctive relief.

Given the harsh penalties that can be imposed under AB1660, anyone working in the entertainment industry should review AB 1660 (and consult an attorney if necessary) to determine whether they need to obtain a Child Performer Services permit under this new law.