Author Topic: BE CAREFUL. That dream job may very well be just that-- a dream.  (Read 967 times)

BrianDzyak

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http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=317303&postcount=7%A0

Wayne Heyman-Hanks repost
Since the original thread on the Done Deal site was taken down for legal reasons, and now that it's a matter of public record about Wayne Heyman-Hanks' misdealings (covered in LA Times, Los Angeles Magazine and several Alabama newspapers), I thought it might be a good idea to keep the story alive in our archives, in case anyone here missed it the first time around and should happen to have the misfortune of doing business with Wayne in the future.

Here's the initial Done Deal post written by one of the scammed writers, posted at the end of June '05 (and which I had wisely saved on my comp so I could cut-and-paste it into emails sent to my friends):

Just wanted to share an outrageous, horrific story that happened to me recently. While I am a screenwriter who still hasn't really broken into the business yet (had a couple of options, and was repped by a manager for a couple of years), I was just one of six writers (and other staff) of various levels of experience who was a victim of this fraud. So I don't feel completely stupid.

After responding to a posting on hollywoodlitsales.com, I was hired by "executive producer" Wayne Heyman-Hanks back in mid April. I was to be a staff writer (there were six in total) on a miniseries called "Real Rome," which according to Wayne had been greenlit by HBO as an appetite whetter for its new dramatic series "Rome." After signing WGA contracts and filling out W-4 and I-9 forms, Wayne told us that we would receive our first paychecks at the end of week 3.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Wayne hired two researchers, a costume designer, production designer, art director, line producer, UPM, stunt coordinator and makeup artist, as well as interviewing (male) actors for roles that weren't even written yet. This all took place at a nice bungalow owned by CBS Studios. Toward the end of the third week, Wayne announced that the show had been picked up for three more episodes, making our duration of work last for 26 weeks (at almost $3500 a week, this was indeed good news). Wayne also told us he intended to have us continue work for several other projects he was developing with television producer Glen Larson.

At the beginning of week 4, Wayne informed the writers and researchers that the payroll company had mailed our paychecks to our homes, instead of delivering them to him. He asked us to let him know when paychecks arrived. We waited a full week, and when no paycheck arrived for any of us, Wayne informed us that there had been a mix-up with the insurance and the establishment of his LLC. He assured us that he would have paychecks hand-delivered to us at home by that Saturday. No one arrived with the checks that weekend. In the meantime, Wayne sent us home from the bungalow because there was supposedly a problem with the lease with CBS, and he was looking for new office space for the growing production staff. We continued to work from home throughout week 4, while Wayne continued to promise to pay us.

At the end of week 4, a meeting was called for the writers and researchers at a Starbuck’s. Before the meeting, Wayne phoned each of us to say he would NOT be handing out checks at the meeting (nor at Western Costume, where we would be given a tour after the meeting). Checks would be delivered the next day. Once again, no checks were received by anyone the next day, nor the day after that.

The following Monday (week 5), all of us contracted staff were getting quite fed up. Wayne assured us that he was getting approximately $20,000 in "petty cash" with which he would pay us on Wednesday. Wednesday came and went-- no word from Wayne. By the end of the day, the Line Producer had set up an urgent meeting with all of us (except Wayne) for the next day at Du-Par's.

Almost the entire hired staff, about 20 of us, came to the meeting. The line producer (who we were initially told by Wayne was an HBO producer, and he was told we were HBO writers, both untrue) then informed us that he had discovered that HBO had never heard of the "Real Rome" production, and that the persons that Wayne named as our contacts at HBO did not exist. He could find no evidence of a payroll company or any funds to support the production. The address for LightForce Productions (Wayne's company) was a P.O. box. LightForce was not even a registered LLC. The entire "production" was a fraud perpetrated by Wayne.

Turns out Wayne was able to pay for the 3 1/2 weeks at the bungalow, as well as all the rented office furniture and equipment there, by duping a longtime Danish associate of his into believing that this production was real. Not only did this guy move from Denmark to work on the project (serving as creative consultant), he "lent" Wayne $60,000 as startup capital, fully expecting he would be paid back by HBO as soon as the funds were allocated.

Bear in mind that many of the folks who were hired by Wayne are professionals with legitimate Hollywood credits. People are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for services rendered just in those five weeks alone. No one expects to see any money. If fact, no one seems to be able to help us at all. Because Wayne did not profit from this pseudo-business, he did not commit a crime in the eyes of the police or FBI. He did not submit our W-4s and I-9s to the IRS, so he did not commit a federal fraud. He did not sign the WGA signatory agreement, so the WGA cannot enforce our supposed WGA contracts. Sure, we could sue Wayne, but he's most likely broke. We'd spend far more on litigating than we would ever see in a settlement. We are left with egg on our faces.

Since then, one writer got evicted from his apartment for not being able to pay his rent (he then contemplated suicide). Another writer filed for bankruptcy. Two writers, one from Canada, the other from Ohio, who had both moved to LA specifically for this project, may very well have to move back, destitute. As for me, I consider myself fortunate-- I somehow qualified for unemployment compensation. Yeah, lucky me.

Why did 43-year-old Wayne Heyman-Hanks do this? Maybe he wanted to feel like a big shot for a while, or maybe he thought if he packaged the project enough he could secure financing. We don't know. All we know as of now is that he's been hopping from cheap motel to cheap motel in the SF Valley (some located right near the writers he screwed over). He's obviously deranged and/or delusional. We have little doubt he believes "Real Rome" is still a real possibility.

Moral of this story, friends: BE CAREFUL. That dream job may very well be just that-- a dream.
Last edited by Ohclipse : 09-05-2005 at 02:37 PM.