(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/5; via Pam Green.)

Escalating an acrimonious battle on Broadway, an association of commercial producers on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the industry’s most powerful casting directors, accusing them of violating antitrust laws.

The lawsuit comes as casting directors in theater have been attempting to organize a labor union, and have faced strong opposition from producers.

The Broadway League, a trade association representing producers and theater owners, filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It alleges that, in their bid to unionize, casting offices have formed an illegal cartel and have raised prices in violation of laws designed to preserve competition.

“The casting companies have demanded that Broadway producers pay a surcharge of 29 percent on all currently negotiated fees, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of putting on a show,” the lawsuit said. The lawsuit also alleges that the casting offices have recently begun boycotting new work.

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