This story was first telecast on 11/14/02 and has not been updated.

Trans Continental Talent

In September, 2002, Options Talent was bought by another company and the name changed to Trans Continental Talent (TCT). The new owner is Louis Pearlman, an Orlando-based music promoter credited with creating popular music groups like the Backstreet Boys and O-Town.

Even though Trans Continental Talent says it now offers a 72-hour refund policy, the Orlando Better Business Bureau says the new company has the same unsatisfactory record as the old one because of "a pattern of complaints concerning misrepresentation in recruiting practices and misrepresentation of the modeling agencies who use their services."

A TCT spokesman told us the complaints make up a tiny percentage of the contacts they make. "It's neither our role nor our mission at Trans Continental to discourage anyone from pursuing their dream of acting or modeling," said Scott Bennett.

But when the I-Team examined the company's filings with Securities and Exchange Commission, we found three paid consultants with checkered pasts.

Two of them, Jason Hoffman and Ralph Edward Bell, settled a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit accusing them of misrepresentation in an earlier modeling business. The two paid a fine but denied wrongdoing.
A third consultant, Alec Defrawy, is actually the man we saw coordinating that fake "documentary crew" during our interview with an Options executive. Mr. Defrawy pled guilty in 1995 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.

According to the SEC filings, all three continue to work as paid consultants with Trans Continental Talent, one of them collecting a six-figure salary.

Jim Doberman worked for TCT, too. A veteran actor, dancer and photographer, Doberman agreed to take headshots of some of the new models signed by TCT's Atlanta office. But Doberman says he quickly realized the talent he was shooting had no chance of becoming a model.

"They were people who had no business being there. Beautiful on the inside, absolutely, but never by the stretch of the imagination, models in any field," Doberman told us.

So after the second day of shooting, Doberman decided to fight back. He says he made copies of the Better Business Bureau report on TCT and took them to a TCT open call in Atlanta.

"I walked straight up to the front of the room and start passing them out to people and I made an announcement," he said. "This is scam! Leave as fast as you can!"

When the company kicked him out, Doberman took his protest to the street, carrying a homemade sign.

A TCT spokesman wrote to us, "I can't tell you how many young stars Mr. Pearlman has worked with over the years who first met with rejection and derogatory comments such as Mr. Doberman's before persevering and eventually succeeding." But Doberman told us he got what he wanted: a performance that moved people, away from TCT.

The Better Business Bureau of Central Florida has available an online report on Trans Continental Talent.

 Related story: Options Talent Group

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