The term is now often used to refer to other industries besides entertainment, though careers which are highly desirable and traditionally difficult to break into, such as the movie, television and music industries, have been the subject of casting couch stories in popular culture. Such trading of favors can be an abuse of power—possibly even statutory rape—and can become a wider sex scandal if deemed newsworthy.
In a 1995 article, journalist Peter Keough described Hollywood as "a town where everyone is selling body and soul for fame and fortune and all – especially women – are considered commodities".
In a 1996 interview, actor Woody Harrelson declared "every [acting] business I ever entered into in New York seemed to have a casting couch ... I've seen so many people sleep with people they loathe in order to further their ambition."
In 2003, Italian actress Asia Argento stated that Hollywood producers expect oral sex from young starlets in exchange for roles. Her semi-autobiographical film Scarlet Diva (2000) features a scene along these lines with painter Joe Coleman playing a lecherous producer.
At a 2005 class reunion, producer Chris Hanley told his former classmates that "almost every leading actress in all of [his] 24 films has slept with a director or producer or a leading actor to get the part that launched her career".
In her autobiography Ich habe ja gewusst, dass ich fliegen kann (2006), Austrian actress Senta Berger (b. 1941) claimed that in a New York hotel suite in 1965 producer Darryl F. Zanuck (b. 1902) exposed himself to her beneath his silk dressing gown and offered to forgive her for the atrocities of the Nazis if she slept with him.
In 2009, Megan Fox stated that leading film directors made sexual propositions while casting for film roles.
In a 2009 interview with OK! Magazine, actress Charlize Theron claimed that when she was 18 she was propositioned at an audition by a pajama-clad Hollywood director. “I thought it was a little odd that the audition was on a Saturday night at his house in Los Angeles, but I thought maybe that was normal.”
In a 2009 interview, actor Mickey Rourke declared: "There's definitely something called a casting couch... if you take a girl from the Midwest with a pretty face and instead of inviting them in for an audition in the morning, the directors invite them for dinner at night? ... I can recall with certain women, we'd go out, I'd park the car on Sunset and by the time I'd got to the curb there'd be three or four producers handing them cards... There's ways you get a job and ways you get a job."
In a 2010 interview with Elle magazine, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that early in her career a film executive suggested that a business meeting should finish "in the bedroom".
In a 2010 interview with Access Hollywood, actress Lisa Rinna said a producer had asked her for "a quickie" when she was a 24-year old candidate for a role on a prominent television series. At the same interview, Rinna's husband Harry Hamlin claimed that a female casting director attempted to seduce him in the late 1970s when he was 27.
In the November 2012 issue of Elle magazine, Susan Sarandon spoke of a "really disgusting" casting-couch experience in New York in the late 1960s or early 1970s. “I just went into a room and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York and it was really disgusting. It wasn’t like I gave it a second thought. It was so badly done.”
In 2002, actress Lesley-Anne Down (b. 1954) spoke of finding fame in the late 1960s: "The casting couch was in full swing, people expected it... My teen-age years were pretty intense, a lot of pressure and a lot of horrible old men out there". In a 1977 interview, she had also said: "I was promised lots of lovely big film parts by American producers if I went to bed with them... Believe me, the casting couch is no myth".
In 2007, actress Helen Mirren claimed director Michael Winner had treated her "like a piece of meat" at a casting call in 1964. Asked about the incident, Winner told The Guardian: “I don’t remember asking her to turn around but if I did I wasn’t being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me - and for this I get reviled! Helen’s a lovely person, she’s a great actress and I’m a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed.”
In 2008, actress Ingrid Pitt described the unwelcome advances of two producers in hotels.
In October 2012, filmmaker Ben Fellows published claims that the casting couch was rife in the worlds of British television, theatre and advertising when he worked as a child actor and model in the 1980s. He claimed "the problem is both institutional and systemic in the entertainment industry."
In 2013, Myleene Klass stated that, "I don’t think there’s a single person in the entertainment industry that hasn’t, at some point, experienced the casting couch thing". Earlier, in 2010, she revealed a major Hollywood star wanted to sign a sex contract with her.
In 2013, Thandie Newton told CNN of how, aged 18, she was auditioned by a male director and a female casting director. "The director asked me to sit with my legs apart – the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt – to put my leg over the arm of the chair and before I started my dialogue, [I was told] to think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person. It turned out the director used to show that video late at night to interested parties at his house – a video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt.” She declined to name the director.
A typical “casting couch” case occurred in India in 2004, when actress Preeti Jain filed a police complaint alleging that film director Madhur Bhandarkar had sexually exploited her for many years and made false promises to cast her in a lead role in his next film. She stated that she was never given any role in any of his films. According to Jain, Bhandarkar repeatedly had sex with her between 1999 and 2004 at Natraj Apartment at Yari Road, Hotel Seaside at Juhu and at Bhandarkar's friend's (Akbar) flat at Mount Mary Road, Bandra.
In 2006, Chinese actress Zhang Yu (张钰) released 20 graphic sex videos that she made herself to document her allegations that she won many of her roles through the casting couch. The videos were released on YouTube but have been subsequently removed.
In 2009, Indian actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi reported an incident in her blog where she narrowly escaped sexual advances from a producer while casting for a film role.