Legal drama: Hollywood yet to come of age

Published: November 14, 2016
Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence, both 26, are amongst the youngest superstars in Hollywood right now. PHOTOS: FILE

Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence, both 26, are amongst the youngest superstars in Hollywood right now. PHOTOS: FILE

LOS ANGELES: Many actors think there ought to be a law against posting their ages online and California, this year, obliged critics of ageism in Hollywood by passing a law targeting a leading movie and television information website. The law has been challenged in a lawsuit by the company IMDb, which is owned by Inc and operates a repository of information on the film and television industry.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the measure violates free speech rights under the US Constitution. Supporters described the law as an effort to prevent age discrimination. It requires officials at IMDb to remove the ages of figures in the entertainment industry, including actors and directors, if those individuals request the deletion.

Female performers in particular say a double standard gives them fewer opportunities as they age, while men can still land leading parts late in their careers. “By the time you’re 28, you’re expired and playing mommy roles,” actor Zoe Saldana, the 38-year old female lead of Guardians of the Galaxy, said in an earlier interview.

The lawsuit said the law, known as AB 1687, was unfair because it was carefully tailored to apply only to IMDb Inc and no other sources of information. “IMDb shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination,” the lawsuit stated. “But AB 1687 is an unconstitutional law that does not advance, much less achieve, that goal.”

The case seeks a court judgment blocking enforcement of the law. It names California Attorney General Kamala Harris as a defendant. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the lawyers were reviewing the complaint. “While age information for Hollywood’s biggest stars is readily available from other online sources, this bill is aimed at protecting lesser known actors competing for smaller roles,” stated Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, in September.

In 2013, a Seattle jury ruled in favor of IMDb in an age discrimination lawsuit by actor Huong Hoang, known as Junie Hoang, who did not want her age listed, according to media reports at the time.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2016.

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