Starz National Models and Talent
Complaints / Questions
To Whom It May Concern:
It is amazing to me that people can take a legimate
comapny and lump them under a heading labeled "scams".
without personally investigating the company or the people
who work, I might add 15 to 18 hours a day trying to
reach potential models who have no direction or idea
of how to get their image in front of the proper or legite
I am one of those such people. I have been in this industry
for over twenty years. The fairest plan that I have seen
lately is the STARZ group. All I can see that they do
is offer without any pressure the option to use a highly
qualified photo crew and fly them to my city, giving
me the opportunity to shoot with a calabur of photographer
that I could never get on my own.
Starz also paid for the hair dresser, make- up artist & the
acccomodations for me to meet this crew. We all, appx.
50 models, from over 500 or more that auditioned, felt
quite good about how the make up artist and the photographer
made us feel special and did not pressure us or make
us feel uncomfortable that this was many of us' first
shoot. They took their time and worked with us and helped
my daughter to get photos that I would have never dreamed
she could do.
We all were given critique sheets to fill out so that
the photo crew was evaluated. As far as I know, on this
shoot, there was nothing but praises for the photo crew
that came to work with us.
Starz did a workshop for free to help us get ready for
the shoot, whether it be with their photo crew or one
of our choosing. They also provided each of us with a
work book to help us.
They also did mock auditions for commercials, that let
us see just how intimidating that environment might be.
They gave me the copyrights to our film, took 72 poses
wirh four different outfits.
I personally sat there while they worked on my daughter
and I never saw the same hair style twice on over 8 people
that came through while I was there. They absolutely
promised me nothing except a tool that we could market
my daughter with in the industry.
It is very good quality and I am glad that we at least
had the fun of seeing how the real shoots happen. If
people do not want to spend the money to put their comp
cards together, they should never call back after the
They certainly give you everything that they do in writing.
I also know that they do not advertise it, but at every
search they give out two scholarships to deserving families
who can not afford it. It is called the Jesse Bear award
in memeory of one their little models who died at the
young age of 2 years old. Just call Mr. James Bradley
of Santa Fe.
I do hope you print my letter as well as the negative
ones that are on your sight. Then maybe I will see that
you are not the scam.
I work in a high school drama department and see the
good that these folks are really trying to do.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The above message was sent from:
firstname.lastname@example.org on 06/06 at 23:21.
The StarzNational.com website read:
Read the resume of Trish and Jeff Helms
National Directors, Starz National Models
Question: was the above message written by and/or sent
by one of the National Directors of Starz National Models,
posing as a satisfied customer?
To Whom It May Concern:
I am having trouble with Starz National Models
and Talent Management Group.
My daughter went to an open call for Starz in Myrtle
Beach, SC, on March 27, 2002.
She was asked to come back to the evening session.
During the evening session, the person running the show
seemed to say all the right things.
Modeling schools were a waste and a rip-off. If the
model was underage, they had to maintain a B average.
And he said there was no guarantee of work.
The next day my daughter was to call to see if she would
be offered a contract.
While at the open call, the person running things told
us he could get work for my daughter, and he wanted to
introduce her to the people from Fashion TV.
She called and was offered a contract.
When we went to sign the contract, we were then told
about the photographer.
There was no pressure to use the photographer supplied
by Starz, but we were told we had to have pictures at
the workshop on April 16, 2002, three weeks later. We
went with the Starz photographer, because of the limited
The photo shoot was on May 17, 2002; I have no real
complaints with the shoot.
We then met with Trish Helms on June 4 to select photos
for Comp Cards. We were told we should have the photographs
on CD, and the Comp Cards in three to four weeks, but
to give it five weeks to be sure.
I waited till July 18 to make the first call to check
on the status of the Comp Cards. I was told the cards
would be in the following week, and we should have everything
by the end of that week.
I called on July 26, and was told that the comp cards
were due in the following Monday, and would be mailed
So I called on Tuesday, July 30, and was told that some
comp cards had come in and been mailed, and the rest
would be mailed when they came in.
I called again on August 5, and was told that it was
a four-step process, taking two months to get the Comp
The person at Starz who told me this was the same person
I had talked with during the previous calls. Why wasn't
I told this during previous calls?!
I called Starz on August 8, and was told by a different
person that they had changed printers, and the new printer
promised to have the Comp Cards at Starz' office on August
13, and they would be shipped to me by Priority Mail.
So I called on August 13, and I was told by the first
person at Starz I talked with that the photo CD and Comp
Cards had been mailed.
As of today August 23, 2002, 10 days later, I have no
photo CD, no Comp Cards, and we haven't heard back about
any meeting with the people from Fashion TV.
We have talked with several people from the Myrtle Beach,
SC, area who also haven't received anything from Starz.
I have called numerous times over the last three days.
The phone just rings, no answer, not even an answering
I sent a certified letter with return receipt on August
I haven't received anything back.
All of this leads me to believe we have been cheated.
I have filed a complaint with the BBB in Charlotte,
NC, and plan to file complaints with the Attorney Generals
for the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and
I also plan to file a complaint with the Federal Trade
I urge anyone who is having the same problems that I
am to do the same.
I truly believe the Starz has committed FRAUD. They
have over $1,000 of our money, and we have nothing.
If anyone from Starz wants to convince me otherwise,
I am all ears.
Sorry I went on so long, but I wanted to get my story
out there. I tried to give just the basics.
Is there anything else I need to do to resolve this
C.B. in Myrtle Beach, SC
The following information from the BBB record for Starz
National could explain one of the problems you have had:
- Principal: Jeffrey L Helms, President
Local Phone Number: (561) 620-2677
TOB Classification: Modeling / Talent Agencies
- The information in this report has either been provided
by the company, or has been compiled by the Bureau
from other sources.
- Nature of Business
- The Better Business Bureau has confirmed
the phone number for the company appears to be out
of service due to rapid busy signals after one dial
What kind of business do they run if their phone number
is out of service?
The BBB also said: "The Bureau has requested basic
information from this company. The Bureau has not received
It is possible the basic information the BBB requests
of all modeling agencies is proof they got models work.
It is certainly the most logical question to ask a modeling
agency, or one of the most basic questions, at any rate.
The Starz National website does not appear to say any
Starz models got any work. All it seems to have are a
few photos and a few resumes.
The resume of the founders, Mr. and Mrs. Helms, could
be disturbing. Trish Helms' background is running John
Casablancas Modeling Centers:
- Trish began to work for the John Casablancas Modeling
and Career Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, as
the Center's director. She won national awards with
the Casablancas Centers as the number one Center nationally
and internationally, several years in a row.
Read the complaints about John
Casablancas Modeling Schools, and find
out why people believe it is a scam.
Find out why a modeling agency president said modeling
schools are a complete scam. Also read the other quotes
about modeling schools in the Guide.
The other thing that is potentially disturbing is the
Helms' background in photography. Their resume said: "Jeff
and Trish also had a photography studio where they have
done photo shoots for over 10,000 models."
How many models got work? Are they running a modeling
photography scam at Starz, getting hundreds of people
signed up, each one paying $1,000 for comp cards, but
not getting anyone any work?
There is another modeling agency in Florida which was
making money from photos, and it was in the news, the
subject of criticism and complaints, because the models
were paying for photos, but not getting any work.
MODELING AGENCIES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO MAKE ANY MONEY
FROM PHOTOS. IT IS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST!
The same criticism against the people running modeling
schools is made against those who take modeling photos.
The aspiring models pay up front, take all the risks,
but they do not get work, and they lose $1,000 or more.
There are modeling agencies which are closely affiliated
with modeling schools, and modeling agencies which are
closely affiliated with photo studios.
In both cases, the models are at risk of becoming the
victims of modeling scams run by scam artists who exploit
a clear conflict of interest, and the models or their
parents pay and lose hundreds of dollars.
Why? If the scam artists can get your money before you
get work, they can get paid even if you don't get work,
and the incentive is not there to work hard and find
models work. It is "easy money" just taking
payments for photos and schools.
The modeling agency commission rate is about 20%. That
means an agency would have to get a model $5,000 in work
in order to make the same amount they take for a $1,000
photo shoot (20% of $5,000 = $1,000).
In the smaller markets or outside modeling markets,
there is not much modeling work, and what there is, is
Promotional jobs pay about $15/hr. But very few models
are going to find enough work —333 hours ($5,000
/ $15/hr) —for the modeling agency to earn an honest
$1,000 (20% of $5,000).
This is probably why you find modeling schools and modeling
photo scams in the smaller markets or more remote areas!
The line about Fashion TV is questionable. Do you really
think Fashion TV has any relationship with Starz National?
Or is Fashion TV just a big name they threw out to win
Since you asked if there is anything else you can do,
call Fashion TV, ask to speak to someone in their booking
department, find out if they have any working relationship
with Starz National, or if they have even heard of them.
Did Starz ever tell you their clients? Did you ask?
Did you get references? Did you check them?
The comp cards make sense (they are an industry standard).
But why did they want you to get a CD? Who uses CDs?
Based on your complaint and previous letters, Starz
could be running an extreme version of the most common
modeling photography scam.
There are many red flags there, but still continue to
research. Where are they located? Can you visit their
It looks as if they were giving you the runaround,
or they are just extremely incompetent.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter as an apology, not from an
agency, but from me. I used to be employed by STARZ modeling
I too was extremely excited by the image they displayed
as a legit agency which was honest about getting models
When I inquired they informed me that they did not have
models working... yet. Their reasoning behind
this was that the models first needed comp cards to get
exposure to clients.
I found that to be true so I joined the agency as a
scout, traveling with the owners to over two dozen locations
across the US.
The excitement started to fade when I was instructed
to keep 99% of those who walked in the door. I was told
this was because we were looking for all kinds of people
to do all kinds of work. I mean if the Pinesol lady could
get work who couldn't, right?
However, the morning after the night when all the hopefuls
came in, we were instructed to contract everyone that
We were also instructed to, even though it was said
they didn't have to use our photographer, push our photographer
as the only option. If someone wished to sign, but had
their own photographer, they were put in a pile and eventually
After months of waiting in good faith, I was about to
quit when all of the sudden I was unable to reach the
owners. Both Jeff and Trish changed their personal numbers
and avoided contact with other employees and myself.
I was left with three sample comp cards, no disk (I
also did a shoot with them at the beginning of the year;
six months prior to the split), and two months of work
for which I was not paid.
The last I heard was that the owners were planning on
starting a new venture and STARZ was under another name.
I am writing this because I too was scammed by this
agency. I feel like a fool, because I have been through
every scam out there, and still I had faith in these
people to do the right thing.
I feel used because they made an example out of my experiences
with scams to gain others' trust.
I am sorry to all of those children, parents, and teens
that I have met and who trusted what I told them was
true. I considered some of you friends, even remembering
names and other details about you, because I did (do)
share the same passion for modeling.
I truly thought STARZ was legit. I am sorry, and I speak
only for myself.
Please do not give up your dream because someone took
advantage of you. Use this site as a guide to get you
where you can be. Never let your dreams cloud your intuition.
To Whom It May Concern:
I own several businesses and I have three beautiful
daughters, and when I heard about the open call for models
on the radio, I asked if they would like to go see what
it was all about.
Of course they did!
We went to the open interview and what an exquisite
speaker he was. He knew all the right things to say and
definitely had practice. He let the people play games
and cheer and oh what fun it was to ride on the Helms
Sleigh that night!
He had smiling children so enthused that they couldn't
sleep that night...
Called back for the second interview and all...
Even called the next morning and low and behold they
were going to sign contracts...
So we did. $650 a piece for two of them. Oh, and, yes,
we could use our own photographer, but they had a pro
from Vegas fly in there.
Their pro was VERY nice and told me at that time that
Starz had definitely "screwed" us on the photo
shoot. He informed me that for what I paid for one of
my daughters, he could have done her ALL day.
That is when I started getting concerned, but taking
the words of the "professional" man at Starz,
surely he knew what he was doing.
Well, it was May for the interviews... June for the "workshop"...
and July for the photo shoot.
Yet another $650 per child. So we have a total of $2,600
just in Starz and for photos. That is not including the
new clothes even though they said, "Oh, no, don't
go out and buy them NEW clothes for this!" "If
you need to go 'borrow' them from the store!" "Shhh
did I say that?" he said.
While I didn't "borrow" them from the store,
I naturally made sure they had clothes which would make
them look great for their photos.
During the photo shoot the photographer also informed
me that he was using a digital camera, so that ALL their
photos were on "DISK."
Which means Starz didn't have to wait for a thing. There
were no photos to be developed. They just needed to send
them immediately to the place which does composite cards.
I would jump over barrels for my girls and usually do,
but I will visit the Starz office, find their directors,
and get my money back!
Starz National charged you $1,300 just to sign with
their agency, $650 for one daughter, and $650 for your
Then after you paid $1,300 in registration fees, you
paid $1,300 in photo fees, again $650 for one daughter,
and $650 for your other daughter, for a total of $1,300?
You paid a grand total of $2,600, $1,300 in registration
fees, and $1,300 in photos fees?
How long did it take for the comp card pictures to be
taken? Less than an hour? Was the photography rate more
The BBB record for Starz National in Florida said the
same thing as the letters to Modeling Scams. They do
not answer complaints, and therefore their BBB record
The BBB file, however, provided the website address
of the Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulation which oversees the industry and gives talent
Believe it or not, Starz National does have a talent
agency license in Florida, although the licensee information
provided in the online DBPR database said they are not
based in Florida, they are based in the Modeling Photo
Scam Capital of America: North Carolina.
Regulations, where they do exist, are by state. Here
there are three states you can look at. It is not clear
which law applies, since they are based in North Carolina,
where they don't need a talent agency license, and they
have a license in Florida, where they do need a license,
but they took your money in another state.
Still there are laws for employment agencies, and where
there are no specific modeling or talent agency regulations,
they fall under the rules for employment agencies.
You can check, but according to the Glam Scam, these
are the registration fee rules and regulations for the
North Carolina: "Advance placement fees or registration
fees are prohibited."
Florida: "Any collected fees or expenses must be
returned by the agency within 48 hours if no employment
Your state: "Employment agencies that charge registration
fees must return all fees in full upon demand if employment
is not procured within one month after registration."
Most upfront fees are banned or restricted because they
were previously used for modeling scams.
Models and Talent Letters Index