Millie Lewis AMTC
(American Modeling and Talent Convention)


To Whom It May Concern:

There was an advertisement on the local radio station (92.3) in Macon, GA, about a local talent search.

I called the number and got an operator who asked me which categories we would like to try (dancing, acting, modeling, or singing).

I was told what to do and bring for my 11-year-old daughter's audition. (I was told to bring a CD for her to dance by, and a script would be given for her to read.)

No money would be involved in this, I was told. No COST INVOLVED!

(This seems to be fraudulent, because this gave the incorrect impression of who would be viewing the audition.)

I was told this was a talent search for possible commercials, Disney movies, magazines, etc.

This was held at the Macon Centreplex at 10 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on June 15, 2002, in Macon, GA.

My husband, my daughter, and myself went to the "audition" which was primarily a sales pitch and a 30-minute video talking about a Modeling Convention in Charleston this coming January.

There were posters of alleged clients lining the front of the room. This is an indication that they may be fraudulent.

Also, they asked for $500 up front if my daughter was called back on Sunday (during church hours). By the way, they claim to be family-oriented, but call back while the family is in church; so I guess they don't care much about the family value of church in the Bible-oriented South.

Upon call back, you are asked to bring the $500 up front and sign a contract which obligates you to pay $1,795 by January for a convention in which there are OF COURSE no guarantees. Be prepared for rejection in this industry, you are told.

Extra fees include (to mention a few, $200 local admin cost, and $100 parent/participant pass to the convention, and hotel fees of $149 per night).

Legitimate companies don't get paid until I get paid.

We were very disappointed because the amount of money asked for was high and there was no way to check out the company.

They "prey" upon eager children who have worked hard to get their routine together. It was disappointing.

I would like for my comments to be posted about what really happens at one of their so-called auditions.

There are conventions weekly in January. I feel they are taking people's money for no result or projected outcome.

Also, I would like for the BBB to take this into consideration in their rating of this company and to give them an unfavorable rating.

J.D.


To Whom It May Concern:

If the scenario is that a reputable talent agency does not ask for ANY up front expenses, then why is the comment, “IF you have the time, the funds to spare, as this becomes very much the expensive weekend.” (Quoted by Mona as a response to another mother.) Even to be expected upfront.

I understand from my findings this is a reputable convention and backed highly by models and other agencies, but it seems quite contradictory.

I am not quite certain as to how the response to an inquiry such as this is handled, but could a reply be sent directly to this email address.

B.T.


Are you going to the convention?


I have gone and was invited to show up in Detroit this coming April. Simply doing a little digging to help me understand what to expect as much as possible.


So you've been to one and you're thinking of going to a second? What is in Detroit? They had said they only had two conventions, one in Orlando, the other in Kansas City.

What did they tell you was their success/placement rate?


Yes. I am thinking of going to a second. The explanation for the event in Detroit is the event in Orlando was too expensive for some great talents and they couldn't afford the trip so they are "congregating" so to speak in more local areas. This will perhaps be more advantageous for those talents. It was mentioned that this is a miniature event to the Orlando escapade.

Success/Placement Rate? I am not certain what this question is, but it is required of those invited to make a payment of $495. It is required that $250 immediately be paid and the other half in April when we show up in Detroit.

Isn't this the contradictory part I mentioned? Or is it my misunderstanding that because they are not an agent they can do as they feel?


Yes, they are not an agent, so they are not accountable. You said: "the event in Orlando was too expensive"; this is what others said. It sounds as if they are now adopting the same pricing as their competition, Model Search America, Proscout and Manhattan Model Search, which all seem to be around $500.

If their real motivation for Detroit is to offer opportunities for great talents who cannot afford Orlando because it is too expensive, and not simply to line their own pockets, there will be advance screening by photo (models) or video (talent). This will keep the waste down and keep ML in check.

Did they say they were going to screen people before they make downpayments? Did they ask for photos/videos to be submitted which they will send to agents who are going to attend the Detroit meeting? Do you think they should? Maybe you should ask them about that.

If they are now going to be in Detroit are they also in Las Vegas? Las Vegas would be a perfect location because their whole operation is like a giant casino. Without the screening that is all they are. They want the players to gamble. Whether the price is $1,795 or $495, it makes no difference; it's the same as a casino.


No, they did not say they would screen people prior to the down payment. Should they? They have provided us with a packet of information and instructions that I have yet to go through, maybe there is something with this information in there. I will let you know more tomorrow.

Shouldn't we be provided a list of the agencies that will attend prior to our arrival? Aren't they supposed to provide the pictures/videos prior to the event? Isn't this normal procedure and to be expected?


You said: "No, they did not say they would screen people prior to the down payment. Should they?"

No, they should not screen people prior to the downpayment, the agents should. The AMTC employees have already claimed indirectly to screen people (a given in their selection or scouting), but it's a conflict of interest, and their failure rate is unacceptably high.

The head of AMTC has claimed they cannot know their failure rate, while another person said printed material from AMTC said it was 75%. Even if you believe the 75% claim and contradiction, don't you have a problem with hiring someone who has a 75% failure rate as their track record?

Either the conflict of interest or the high failure rate is cause for concern, but both at the same time is obviously cause for great concern, especially when at stake are hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Based on information Modeling Scams has learned, AMTC scouts earn a commission of $250/contestant recruited. Therefore when you pay $1,795 for the AMTC, $250 goes to the scout.

Therefore in essence you pay the scout $250 for his or her opinion of your child's chances of success. Essentially, you are hiring the scout for their professional opinion, willing to pay their rate of $250. Which leads of course to the question, is their opinion, a) unbiased, and, b) worth $250?

Since there is a conflict of interest (they are paid in advance by the number of people whom they convince to go, not by the number who are signed and get work), the answer to a) is you never know.

Since their failure rate is 75% (or worse, again, since the number is unsubstantiated), the answer to b) is highly unlikely.

Would you hire anyone for $250 for their unbiased professional opinion if even one of the above cases were true (conflict of interest, high failure rate)? What is their opinion worth? How much more than two cents?

Based on their failure rate, these scouts are arguably not qualified to be professional scouts. They do not work for the agencies which know what type of models clients want. They are not in the position to say who has true potential.

The only people are the agents who are scouts, attending the AMTC as agents/scouts. These are the people who are, first and foremost, professionally competent to scout, and who can actually get models work.

Secondly, these agents/scouts are also not in a conflict of interest to say who has potential. They are not paid in advance, there is nothing to financially motivate them to say someone has a potential modeling career ahead.

And, furthermore, besides being professionally competent and not in a conflict of interest, these agents/scouts can screen potential models prior to the AMTC, simply by print photo or digital photo submission.

If you see the basic logic, ask AMTC why they don't ask agents to screen potential models before they make any payment, such as a downpayment.

Regarding your second series of questions, they are certainly fair questions: "Shouldn't we be provided a list of the agencies that will attend prior to our arrival? Aren't they supposed to provide the pictures/videos prior to the event? Isn't this normal procedure and to be expected?"

One list was previously sent to the site by Carey Arban, so the list should be available to those interested to attend AMTC. Ask for it. You have a right to know if the agents whom you would pay to see are reputable and competent.

Then you could do a little experiment. Find the mailing addresses of all of the agents who are going to attend the convention, then mail them Polaroid snapshots of your child. Find out if they are interested. If they do not respond, go to the convention and see if they do not respond.

If they do not respond to seeing your child in person as they did not respond to seeing your child in pictures, you will have proved advance agent screening by photos is effective, while lack of advance agent screening can waste $1,795, or, if you add all the associated expenses, about $5,000.


You had asked, "If the scenario is that a reputable talent agency does not ask for ANY up front expenses, then why is the comment..."

Millie Lewis AMTC is not a talent agency.

But you raised a good question. Why do supposedly reputable agencies get involved with a convention if it charges upfront fees and why do these agencies turn a blind eye to the clear and significant conflict of interest?

They could stop hundreds of people from wasting their money by advance screening, but they are so self-centered, they don't give a damn what happens to the models and their parents, if their hard-earned money and valuable time is wasted.

When the top "most reputable" modeling agencies in New York are all being sued by the models, you really need to start rethinking what "reputable" really means in this industry, especially when the allegations center around a conspiracy and breaking anti-trust laws.

Whose definition of "reputable" are you accepting? And why?

The issue of scouting ethics came up in an interview with Trans Continental Talent's Chairman Lou Pearlman published in the Orlando Weekly:

Pearlman is adamant about the company's new direction, right down to the recruitment of talent. Scouts are now on salary, he says, so the pressure is off to sell dreams to those who will never attain them. "Unlike Options, talent scouts will not work on commissions," he says, "We're not using their business plan."

While Mr. Pearlman's claim contradicted his company's SEC Filings, he is right about the fact there is pressure to sell dreams to people who will never attain them, when scouts work on commissions.

But that is apparently exactly how not only TCT scouts are paid but also Millie Lewis AMTC scouts. Both work on commissions. Modeling Scams has learned AMTC scouts are paid $250/enrollment and the TCT scouts make $20/enrollment.

How do parents whose kids are scouted trust the AMTC scouts when they are paid by commission and therefore could be trying to "sell dreams to those who will never attain them"?

If you want to find out what is really going on in the modeling industry, you need only discover who is getting paid, and how much they are getting paid. Follow the money trail.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

I have information for you in regards to Millie Lewis International. I do not think they are operating on the up and up. Millie Lewis is not telling the truth.

First of all Millie Lewis claims they do not do talent searches via ads or hotel visits. They do. Here in Asheville they did , but they use the name of a talent agency called Carolina Talent out of Charlotte.

We went and they showed us a video and asked each person from very small children to adults to read few lines, then walk.

I am sure they could tell who had the money up front and those that did not.

That evening or the next day, they said they would call. They called both of my daughters back.

At this point in time, no money or costs were explained. We went back the following afternoon and they talked it up very big and would not state out loud the cost. They gave out a huge packet with the costs inside. The cost initially was $1,795.

I asked what exactly that covered and what other costs there were. They said it did not cover the cost of the convention trip, hotel and food, transportation, the booklet, and the photo shoot, but they could not explain the break down of the $1,795. They would only state it cost money for these scouts to come to the convention, and we would be receiving many hours of training and prep.

We told them it was just too much money for us. In about a week they called and offered $500 scholarship and and stated my daughters were just what they were looking for.

I opted to just do one.

Initially, the only training they mentioned was a weekend workshop in Asheville and any that we could attend in Charlotte.

The first workshop was the most unorganized workshop I have ever witnessed. It could have easily been accomplished in about three hours, but it took two days.

One of those days was a professional photo shoot. What a joke!!! The guy that did the training the day before showed up with a camera and took pictures of each contestant in the hotel lobby and outdoors. There was no special lighting. They hired a makeup artist that made my daughter look like a street walker.

All through the training, the day before, they emphasized how natural they wanted everyone to appear. This photo shoot took a whole day and by the time he took photos of my daughter is was nearly dark.

This photo shoot cost $400 per person. I asked them what that covered. They said they had to pay the makeup artist $900 and they would be helping us pick out the good photos which they would use in the presentation at the final convention in January.

WE HAVE TO PAY FOR THE PRINTS, THE BOOKLET THEY GO IN , THE COMP CARDS, AND THE LIST GOES ON. (At least another $100 or more.)

They collected $400 from about 15 people that one day. I could not believe the fees that were still coming at us on top of that.

In about a week, we received the slide proofs, but he had to come back in to take more pictures of my daughter again. They handed me the slides and said they were wonderful.

The photos are absolutely awful and not worth $40. I would never allow these photos to represent my daughter. We have had professional photos taken before and know the difference.

We were told that it would be a professional photo shoot with at least four looks. I told them my daughters school pictures were better and they took about 5 seconds.

Well, they just said they have their own style which is like an Abercrombie look... What a crock!

Anyway, they said we could come to Charlotte on the Thanksgiving weekend and spend another whole day on having theses photos taken by another photographer.

We did not want to waste more money doing that.

This weekend, they said we needed to come to another two-day workshop in Charlotte.

At the beginning of this whole thing, it was stated we just had one workshop in Asheville, the photo shoot and the convention. Now, they state we need to be coming to this workshop as well.

My daughter is a junior in high school and she has finals this next week. She is attending a very demanding college prep school. I told them we could just come for one day. That day is today and my daughter cannot go. She is sick so we will miss it.

I have this strange feeling they are going to say that because we did not attend all of their so called workshops we will not be able to attend the convention.

We are suppose to have out outfits chosen at this point. My daughter used some clothing she had. One dress was very tight that she used at the photo shoot. We chose it for its color, not fit. My daughter said she could not and would not wear it in the show. I agreed since I purchased it for her when she was in 8th Grade. They told her to just lose some weight. She is 5'9" and weighs about 120. That 120 is just muscle so she does not have any fat to lose. We could not believe that request so I told them, no way.

As of today, I am going to cancel our contract and demand my money back due to financial problems. I owe them $895. I have shelled out $1,000 and that does not include their so-called Scholarship.

These people are operators and they know how to hook people. They called us when I was upset about the photo shoot and stated that Wrigley's spearmint gum would be doing an ad in Asheville and they needed my daughter the first weekend in November.

That never materialized and I think they used that to keep us interested. I do not like the fact that the brochures and website do not show the breakdown of expenses. The expenses never end.

There are people doing this that do not have that kind of money and we are one of them. Some are repeat customers. It should never cost that much to be represented.

All of my checks and charges have been made to Millie Lewis International so this talent agency is under their wing. They do indeed use talent searches and flashy ads on the radio. Millie Lewis in written all over everything.

You may wonder why I fell for this. My daughter attended a Millie Lewis modeling school in Greenville, SC. It is not part of this international operation. It was run very well, the fees were fair, and their were no promises of any kind. We truly enjoyed it, so I thought this operation would be similar. It has been a total scam.

The money they have collected is incredible and for little work. They use the same guy for training as for photos so they are forking little money out for so-called professionals.

The training and preparation is something to be desired.

I checked out the BBB site and could not find any complaints that were not resolved against this Carolina Talent.

What do you know about complaints or issues with this whole agency that is called Millie Lewis International?

How can such talent agencies be allowed to roll into a town and collect these huge fees for nothing other than their so-called knowledge of the industry?

Please do not print this on your website until I have this resolved. At that point, I will gladly let you use my name.


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