Hidden Camera Investigation into Local Modeling/Acting School - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Hidden Camera Investigation into Local Modeling/Acting School

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A Fox 26 employee with a hidden camera is just one of hundreds of parents showing up for what radio ads described as an open casting call for The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

"Who in here wants to be on Disney, who wants to be on Nickelodeon? A young woman asks the crowd

Every kid with stars in their eyes that's who.

After their kids were worked up into a frenzy parents soon learned stardom comes with a hefty price tag.

Did we hear names of specific shows casting parts? Did anyone introduce themselves as a casting director? Did anyone say they were employed by Disney, Nickelodeon or any network or T.V. show?

No.

What we did hear was a lot about John Robert Powers School of modeling and acting.

When Fox 26 Investigates called the number on the radio ad no one mentioned the school. We were told it was an open casting call to see who'll get parts on shows on Disney and Nickelodeon.

"We had parents who really and truly thought they were going to a casting call for the Disney Networks for their children to be on Disney shows," Monica Russo with the Better Business Bureau said.

The BBB did the same thing we did, called the number given for the open casting call.

"The fact that it's a school wasn't mentioned during that phone call," Russo said.

"It said audition for Disney and that sounded great that's exactly what my son wants to do," Heidi Thompson said.

Thompson's 13-year-old son wants to pursue a career in show business.

"Is this really for a Disney gig," Thompson said. "They said yes this is really for a Disney gig."

"We actually contacted Disney and spoke to their attorneys," Russo said. "And Disney actually had no idea there was an audition taking place here in Houston."

So did kids really try out for a T.V. show?

No.

They were video-taped reading lines for a commercial.

Like other parents our employee was told about various classes and prices costing between two and $1,000.

As instructed our employee called the next day to see if his daughter was one of the kids chosen for a call back.

Yes, but there was a catch.

Our employee had to commit right then to buying a package of classes. If not the John Robert Powers representative told him not to bother to bring his daughter to the call back.

Parents who check with the Better Business Bureau will see John Robert Powers of Harris County has an "F" rating.

The BBB website states, "Consumers should note that John Robert Powers is not affiliated with Disney networks."

What does John Robert Powers have to say?

The school referred us to their attorney in Leesburg, Virgina. The law firm didn't return our calls seeking response.

The contract parents sign with John Robert Powers specifically states no refunds after 72 hours.

"Even canceling in 48 hours it still took over 45 days to get my money refunded to the credit card," Thompson said.

"I can see how parents get sucked into this," Russo said. "You know a child is a star in every parent’s eyes, but what they have to remember is not let vanity cloud their better judgment."

Remember acting and modeling schools are options not requirements and no school can guarantee stardom.

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