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Aspiring actors warned about Detroiters casting call scam

Posted: 5:11 PM, Jul 28, 2017
Updated: 2017-07-28 17:11:00-04

When the all-new Comedy Central “The Detroiters” rolled out this year it was met with fanfare in Detroit. The show proved to be a rising star within Comedy Central, and was renewed for a second season before the first was finished airing.

When talk of a casting call for the show began to swirl online, a lot of locals were excited to show up as an extra on the show based on the city they live in.

Chris Yonge was one of many who applied through the talent group, based in Troy, known as ‘Nine9 The Unagency.’ According to Yonge, he was led to believe he was going on an audition of sorts — instead he told 7 Action News that he showed up to a room full of 50 people, was rushed through, and then was pitched an opportunity to sign up for services offered by Nine9 for $450.

“Uh, that better come with a Red Lobster dinner,” said Yonge, making light of the situation. “But seriously, that’s not going to work. That’s some people’s paycheck.”

The drama surrounding the comedy moved to another level this past month when the television show’s Facebook show went public to speak against the talent agency, writing: “Hey friends - do not give Agency 99 money. They are trying to scam you. We don’t know who or what Agency 99 is, but they’re definitely not in charge of casting Detroiters extras.”

The owner of Nine9 declined to give an on-camera interview in reaction to the complaints, citing that 7 Action News would twist his words to fit an agenda. Instead, he said he would give a written statement. At the time of this publication, it has been more than five hours since that statement was offered — no further communication has happened.

The owner did speak by phone calling the situation a misunderstanding. He stated that Nine9 is not a casting agency and has never casted for “The Detroiters,” however, a secretary had told a 7 Action News reporter an hour earlier that they have casted for the show.

According to the owner, they work with the 99-percent of people who won’t get a shot with an agent, instead they offer services to put you into a better position to get a job. It’s why they call themselves an “unagency” according to the group’s “about us” section.

As for Yonge, he declined a paid portfolio, and has no interest in services.

He added that when he brought up the Detroiters in his meeting it seemed like no one knew what he was talking about.

“They were rushing back-and-forth and it felt like an act,” said Yonge. “It’s like they were trying to portray themselves as something that they weren’t. A little deception.”

He isn’t alone. After the Detroiters posted about the agency, a number of people chimed in saying that they were scammed, or at the very least part of a bait-and-switch.

A look at the Facebook page of Nine9 also showed a handful of negative interviews.

One Facebook user said they were not a legitimate talent agency, adding: “Falsely lures people in to so-called auditions for extra work (for which they are not the casting agency), then demands exorbitant fees which no legitimate agency would ever charge to be registered!”

Another wrote: “Really heartbroken with this company. Luis told me that he'd be able to get me a photo shoot and place me with an agency if I signed, so I did and he hasn't responded and isn't with the company anymore.”

It’s not the first negative press the group has garnered. The L.A. Times wrote multiple pieces on Nine9 when it was still known as “One Source Agency.”

The coverage by the L.A. Times included a number of stories of frustrated former customers who spent hundreds of dollars with little help to break into the show business. A more recent article from 2016 noted that the group would settle a $1.6 million civil suit. That suit was brought against the agency for improper contracts that violated what’s known as the “Kerkorian Talent Scam Prevention Act.”