It’s a sensational storyline: convicted sex offender Jason James Murphy, under cover of a shortened name, makes his way to Hollywood and finds success as a casting associate, working on films such as Bad News Bears, School of Rock, Super 8 and forthcoming biopic The Three Stooges.
The LA Times article in question by Dawn Chmielewski and Harriet Ryan, with additional reporting from several colleagues, is also the kind of bellwether piece that leads to real-world changes. Expect the Casting Society of America and-or other unions and guilds to re-examine the background check procedures currently in place for casting office employees.
Since the story was first posted last night, it has been picked up by dozens of other outlets, starting with the Hollywood Reporter and continuing through to everyone from AP to the UK’s Daily Mail (which shoddily fails to credit LAT). The Washington state mugshot of Murphy (pictured) is extremely unsettling, since he looks more like an actor auditioning for a role than a criminal staring at jail time.
Chmielewski and Ryan include stunned feedback from Super 8 director J.J. Abrams, a talent agent, one of the film’s two female casting directors and spokespersons for several Hollywood studios. They also tried to get comment from Murphy, without success by deadline.
Update – 12/09/11: Murphy was arrested and released after being charged with “failure to file a name change and failure to file a change of address.” His attorney is disputing these charges, which together carry a maximum sentence of three years.
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