“Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu has lambasted an internet scam calling for Asian actors to audition for roles in the upcoming sequels of the 2018 blockbuster film.
The false notice, which arrived in the form of a sketchy press release, reportedly came from a Twitter user named “Alan Baltes,” who claimed to be an actor and a casting associate.
According to the notice, sequels of “Crazy Rich Asians” — supposedly titled “China Rich Girlfriend” and “Rich People Problems,” presuming they follow Kevin Kwan’s trilogy — are looking for Asian actors in their 20s through 40s to take on lead roles.
For a $99 “submission fee” through Google Pay or Venmo, hopefuls can try their luck via “live Zoom auditions,” Baltes added.
Baltes’ Twitter account has since been deactivated. The platform stores deactivated accounts for 30 days before deleting them.
“No no no no this is a scam. We are not holding auditions at all. And we definitely wouldn’t charge $99 for that,” Chu tweeted after being alerted. “Please take this down. Very very FALSE. And evil to pull this scam when people are down right now.”
In a follow-up tweet, a “disgusted” Chu described the scheme as a “malicious scam” and announced that he reported it to Warner Bros.’ legal department.
“Do not listen to @alanbaltes about auditions for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ sequels. It is a malicious scam and frankly disgusting to try and take advantage of people at a time like this. He’s asking people to Venmo him $99 dollars to audition. I’ve sent [this] to Warner Bros.’ legal department to pursue.”
“We’re so far from it. We don’t have a casting director. We have never said, ‘Hey, let’s look at people who are out there.’ We’ve done zero,” the filmmaker told Variety. “We don’t even have a script.”
Chu recalled similar scams in L.A., but he’s especially frustrated that Baltes targeted Asian actors.
“I kept reading it, and when it said ‘99 dollars,’ I was like, ‘This is f—ed up,'” he added.
Baltes denied involvement in a statement to Variety.
“Someone sent me the information and was misrepresenting himself as being with casting,” he told the outlet, identifying himself as a talent agent. “The person is no longer in contact with me after I inquired further. They were attempting to get me to send them money for casting calls.”
It’s unclear when exactly the bogus casting call started floating, but NextShark found a screenshot of a Facebook post from Sept. 11, 2018, which shows an Alan Baltes announcing the same news.
According to the post — which included a now-defunct blog link — the sequels are also looking for a Caucasian female between 25-30 and a Caucasian male between 30-40 to take on supporting roles.
At the time, Twitter user Andrew Kaufman (@andrewwkaufman) shared the post and tagged Chu, as well as producer Nina Jacobson, to inform them that Baltes has been “doing this on almost every film.”
Jacobson acknowledged the information, but it’s unclear whether steps had been taken to deal with Baltes.
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