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 decision makers.

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 search.

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.

S.M.

Santa Fe, New Mexico


The above message was sent from:
trishhelms@aol.com 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 time frame.

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 out.

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 Cards.

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 machine.

I sent a certified letter with return receipt on August 14, 2002.

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 Florida.

I also plan to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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 matter?

C.B. in Myrtle Beach, SC


C.,

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 tone ring.

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 a response."

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 mostly "promotional."

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 you over?

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 office?

It looks as if they were giving you the runaround, or they are just extremely incompetent.

Redacted Info


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 agency.

I too was extremely excited by the image they displayed as a legit agency which was honest about getting models work.

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 called.

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 forgotten about.

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.

D.C.


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!

E.Z.


E.,

Starz National charged you $1,300 just to sign with their agency, $650 for one daughter, and $650 for your other daughter?

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 than $1,300/hour?

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 is unsatisfactory.

The BBB file, however, provided the website address of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation which oversees the industry and gives talent agency licenses.

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 three states:

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 was procured."

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.

Redacted Info


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