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Lawsuit Challenges Hollywood's Reliance On Unpaid Interns

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Black Swan (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)
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A class action lawsuit by former interns on the Oscar-winning 2010 film Black Swan seeks recompense for being unpaid for their services.The lawsuit seeks back pay, damages and an order that would bar Fox Searchlight Pictures and other Fox groups from using unpaid interns, the Los Angeles Times reports. Fox lawyers say the suit “would bring to a halt the many unpaid internships that offer real value to participants, giving them experiences and opportunities they would not otherwise receive.”

Eric Glatt, the lead plaintiff in the suit, said he gave up a $95,000-a-year desk job to serve as an film editing intern on the Darren Aronofsky flick, which won a Best Actress Oscar for Natalie Portman. Glatt alleges he was asked to do a number of menial errands, such as finding Aronofsky a hypoallergenic pillow and “the perfect scented candle.”

Though Glatt had hoped the internship would be his entrée into film editing, he says his treatment violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, which decrees unpaid internships should benefit the interns and not the employers. The suit also contends minimum-wage laws were violated during the filming of Black Swan.

Aronofsky, whose film Noah is out now, declined to comment.