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View Full Version : Battle Raging Over Age Listings on IMDb



childeroland
06-20-2010, 08:52 AM
Excerpt from The Wrap (http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/exclusive-battle-raging-over-age-listings-imdb-18458):


One of the biggest movie sites in the world, IMDb.com, is facing a hornet's nest of controversy over its policy of publishing the ages of actors and writers who say it leads to ageism, TheWrap has learned.

The Writers Guild of America, West, is leading an effort to convince the massive database -- used by virtually everyone in Hollywood and far beyond -- to permit people to remove their birth dates from the site.


"The Guild has a contract with IMDb to provide credits information and does not release information on age," Neal Sacharow, a spokesperson for the WGA, told TheWrap. "We have raised our concerns with IMDb about its listing of ages."

mulcahy67
06-20-2010, 09:43 AM
........i don't get it.
why exactly is it such a big deal?

should we remove the ages from wikipedia too?

Shadow Dragon
06-20-2010, 09:57 AM
........i don't get it.
why exactly is it such a big deal?

should we remove the ages from wikipedia too?
I don't get it either. Why is their age considered so important? And how would this lead to ageism?

leahzero
06-20-2010, 11:15 AM
Ah, the vanity of Hollywood.

It's silliness.

SPMiller
06-20-2010, 11:52 AM
People discriminate based on age. Therefore, the best policy is to add the option to censor one's age. As if that information couldn't be recovered in any other way.

:Huh:

Wavy_Blue
06-20-2010, 08:10 PM
What I don't understand is how they have the ability to track that IMDb is responsible for ageism in casting.

MsGneiss
06-20-2010, 08:26 PM
Everyone in Hollywood uses IMDB? Seriously? It's like saying everyone in baseball uses baseball-reference.com. For some reason I thought they had more advanced and secure resources to inform their casting decisions.

shadowwalker
06-20-2010, 09:03 PM
Take them off ImDB and then no one will ever be able to find out how old they are.

:crazy:

BenPanced
06-20-2010, 09:16 PM
I guess the 45-year-olds are afraid they won't be cast as the BFF in Gossip Girl any longer...

Wavy_Blue
06-20-2010, 09:19 PM
I guess the 45-year-olds are afraid they won't be cast as the BFF in Gossip Girl any longer...

I'm reminded of that episode of 30 Rock when Jenna Maroney thinks she is going in to audition for the part of the daughter in a Gossip Girl-type show, but then finds out to her horror that she has been brought in to audition for the mother. I suspect Jenna is probably behind this effort...

Maryn
06-20-2010, 09:56 PM
This has been ongoing for at least six years. At IMDb's Help and Contributors Help boards, actors and their representatives have demanded accurate dates be replaced with false information. IMDb has refused, consistently.

I'm good with that. If the industry has a problem with ageism, that's the industry's problem, not IMDb's.

Actors, screenwriters, and others in the business who fear negative consequences from being born too early had better begin erasing their personal history, from birth to the present, before they get a credit which meets IMDb's criteria.

It's pretty silly to see high school graduation programs and group photos of the class, the year prominently displayed, which include an actor who insists he or she was nine that year. Or the paperwork for his/her DWI or lawsuit showing a birth year radically different from IMDb's.

Considering the skills of avid fans at finding such photos and other documentation (as a fangirl of sorts, I've seen astonishing invasions of actors' privacy by other fans), it seems there's not really any point. Anyone who cares to dig can unearth evidence proving the lie is a lie.

Maryn, fan of truth

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 03:25 AM
I'm confused....do you people really think that actors are NOT descriminated against by age? Do you think that people in Hollywood look for talent before youth? Do you think that people in the industry do NOT look at the IMDB, while people all over from outside of the industry do all the time?

ETA: do you also think there is not ageism against screenwriters? Because there absolutely is.

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 03:29 AM
I'm confused....do you people really think that actors are NOT descriminated against by age? Do you think that people in Hollywood look for talent before youth? Do you think that people in the industry do NOT look at the IMDB, while people all over from outside of the industry do all the time?

No, we think this information is available from a lot of sources and removing it from IMDB won't prevent anyone finding out that info if they want to know bad enough.

And generally, if someone making a movie is casting for 20-somethings and in walks someone in their 40s, I'm pretty sure they won't have to query IMDB to figure it out.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 03:41 AM
No, we think this information is available from a lot of sources and removing it from IMDB won't prevent anyone finding out that info if they want to know bad enough.

They DON'T want it that badly. But if/when they see it, they may already have preconceived notions. And for writers? NO, it's not available from too many places.


And generally, if someone making a movie is casting for 20-somethings and in walks someone in their 40s, I'm pretty sure they won't have to query IMDB to figure it out.

You think this is about 40 year olds wanting to play 20 year olds? No, not so much. As an actor, you are considered less useful the older you get. Especially if you are a woman.

mulcahy67
06-21-2010, 05:20 AM
Everyone in Hollywood uses IMDB? Seriously? It's like saying everyone in baseball uses baseball-reference.com. For some reason I thought they had more advanced and secure resources to inform their casting decisions.

IMDB Pro is one of the most advanced casting sites. you can find contact information for everyone, resumes, availability, who's hot and who's not, it's pretty advanced.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 08:00 AM
IMDB Pro is one of the most advanced casting sites. you can find contact information for everyone, resumes, availability, who's hot and who's not, it's pretty advanced.

Yes, if anything, they use it more than most people do.

Toothpaste
06-21-2010, 08:08 AM
I know of at least one male actor who lies about his age. I went to highschool with him, he was two years ahead of me. According to imdb, he's 25 (I turn 30 next week btw).

Just saying.

Cricket18
06-21-2010, 08:08 AM
I agree with you, Celia. Hollywood folks use imdb for everything...even the tiniest indie, non-paying gig. Every person that walks in the room gets looked up. And many casting directors look up actors before calling them in for the audition.

And don't get me started on ageism in Hollywood....I'm a woman AND over...well, just look me up on imdb for my age. ;)

MsGneiss
06-21-2010, 04:43 PM
But if your IMDB listing doesn't state your age but DOES state your acting history, won't any casting director who can do basic arithmetic be able to guestimate your age to within a couple of years? I mean, if you have credits going back to the 70s, you can't really claim to be in your 20s. Right???

shadowwalker
06-21-2010, 05:02 PM
Is it really that Hollyweird doesn't want older actors or is it that they don't want to make movies/television shows/whatever about older people? Which is a different can of worms, really. I mean, unless you're a Cary Grant, it's a bit ridiculous to think you can play a part written for a 20-something if you're 40-something. (And even Cary's movies were pushing things.) So agree - the ageism is there, but it's not about the actors. It's about the scripts and the target audiences.

seun
06-21-2010, 05:07 PM
Lindsay Lohan is actually 97.

CaroGirl
06-21-2010, 05:20 PM
Is the real problem access to information? I think not. The real problem is Hollywood itself. If it continues to discriminate, the industry needs to be taken to task for it by those who suffer most. There are unions. Why don't SAG and the screen writers' guild do something about it? Like most unions, they seem to hold power in the palm of their hand.

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 05:36 PM
But if your IMDB listing doesn't state your age but DOES state your acting history, won't any casting director who can do basic arithmetic be able to guestimate your age to within a couple of years? I mean, if you have credits going back to the 70s, you can't really claim to be in your 20s. Right???

This. Let's just shut the whole site down.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 06:26 PM
Is it really that Hollyweird doesn't want older actors or is it that they don't want to make movies/television shows/whatever about older people? Which is a different can of worms, really. I mean, unless you're a Cary Grant, it's a bit ridiculous to think you can play a part written for a 20-something if you're 40-something. (And even Cary's movies were pushing things.) So agree - the ageism is there, but it's not about the actors. It's about the scripts and the target audiences.

Except that we're not just talking about actors, we're also talking about writers. The audience does not know and does not care how old the writer was. It's the people hiring the writer who care.

Again, I don't know why you keep bringing up how silly are all are to think we can be in our 40's and play someone in our 20's, because that is not what this is about.

Smileycat
06-21-2010, 06:29 PM
In a way, I can understand this situation, but don't they all get plastic surgery anyway? Like when they're 10? So, they end up looking deformed 15 years later. The body doesn't adjust to plastic surgery well, you know.

Kidding aside (only I'm really not kidding about looking deformed), don't become an actor if you want your info kept private.

shadowwalker
06-21-2010, 06:57 PM
Again, I don't know why you keep bringing up how silly are all are to think we can be in our 40's and play someone in our 20's, because that is not what this is about.

It's called an example. You know, to illustrate a point. And I haven't kept bringing it up - I mentioned it once, again as an example.

As to the writers and ageism, I don't know about that and thus I didn't comment on that.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 08:52 PM
It's called an example. You know, to illustrate a point. And I haven't kept bringing it up - I mentioned it once, again as an example.

Not you, personally, but you as in everyone. You are the third person who has used it as an example. And I don't know why anyone is using it an an example, because I don't see it happening.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 08:55 PM
Kidding aside (only I'm really not kidding about looking deformed), don't become an actor if you want your info kept private.

They are not asking for it to be "kept private." They are asking that it not be put on the IMDB. It's different for your age to be something that people could find out if they really dug for it than for your age to be right at the top of the first link they see when they google your name.

And it's not just actors, it's writers, too.

MsGneiss
06-21-2010, 09:02 PM
Except that we're not just talking about actors, we're also talking about writers. The audience does not know and does not care how old the writer was. It's the people hiring the writer who care.


But writers also have a history of publication, etc. As well as education info. If you graduated from Harvard in 1972, I can guess how old you are. I think it's unfair to single out IMDB.

There's ageism in many other fields too (when I submit my CV that lists my college graduate date, I pretty much declare my age), and the issue of discrimination has to be addressed in a way that's more intelligent than just hiding all facts. Because you really do have to hide everything about yourself, otherwise, anyone with any common sense can guess your approximate age.

CaroGirl
06-21-2010, 09:03 PM
I still say: don't shoot the messenger. It's not IMDB's fault the industry discriminates based on age. Go for the throat instead of belly-aching that your extremely public profile includes your birth date. In the Internet age, there's nowhere to hide.

Shadow_Ferret
06-21-2010, 09:09 PM
They are not asking for it to be "kept private." They are asking that it not be put on the IMDB. It's different for your age to be something that people could find out if they really dug for it than for your age to be right at the top of the first link they see when they google your name.

And it's not just actors, it's writers, too.

So are they asking Wikipedia the same thing? Remove all age references?

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 09:11 PM
But writers also have a history of publication, etc. As well as education info. If you graduated from Harvard in 1972, I can guess how old you are.

Yes, you can guess, but that isn't really the point. If someone looks at my photos and info, they might consider me for a certain role. If the first thing they see is my age, however, they already have a preconceived notion about me, and they probably assume my photos are about 10 years old, when they're not. If they don't see my age, they might go over my information and THEN guess my age. But by that point it doesn't matter, because my age wasn't part of their first impression.

Personally, I don't mind having my age and date of birth on the IMDB, but I can see why it would bother some actors and writers. It's not that they're being petty or vain. They just don't want it to be the first thing they see. And if you don't see my age on the IMDB, it would take you a while to find it.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 09:13 PM
So are they asking Wikipedia the same thing? Remove all age references?

I don't know. But I do know that when you google anyone's name, if they are on the IMDB, that is usually the first link that comes up.

ETA: Also, Wikipedia is not used by industry professionals the way IMDB is.

MsGneiss
06-21-2010, 09:20 PM
Yes, you can guess, but that isn't really the point. If someone looks at my photos and info, they might consider me for a certain role. If the first thing they see is my age, however, they already have a preconceived notion about me, and they probably assume my photos are about 10 years old, when they're not. If they don't see my age, they might go over my information and THEN guess my age. But by that point it doesn't matter, because my age wasn't part of their first impression.


But people form unfair preconceived notions about all sorts of things. They can judge you based on your skin color, which is supremely unfair (and illegal!). They can guess that your are Jewish or Italian based on your last name, and allow whatever preconceived notions they have about those demographics to take over. They can see that you were born in Alabama, and judge you based on that. It's unfair to attack the information aggregator. The unions would be wise to redirect their efforts at the actual discrimination rather than the sites that make already public information easy to access.

CaroGirl
06-21-2010, 09:38 PM
Interesting! I just looked up my neighbour on IMDB and found out he's way older than I thought he was. Of course, I'm not looking to hire him. Unless it's to mow my lawn with his shirt off. He's totally hot.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 09:46 PM
But people form unfair preconceived notions about all sorts of things. They can judge you based on your skin color, which is supremely unfair (and illegal!). They can guess that your are Jewish or Italian based on your last name, and allow whatever preconceived notions they have about those demographics to take over. They can see that you were born in Alabama, and judge you based on that. It's unfair to attack the information aggregator. The unions would be wise to redirect their efforts at the actual discrimination rather than the sites that make already public information easy to access.

They do. But there is only so much they can do about it. The IMDB is not being "attacked." They are just being asked that people be allowed to remove their ages. Why should they not be?

JimmyB27
06-21-2010, 09:52 PM
They do. But there is only so much they can do about it. The IMDB is not being "attacked." They are just being asked that people be allowed to remove their ages. Why should they not be?
Good question. Do they have any legal rights here? I don't think so, but I have nothing to base that on other than a hunch. If they don't, then I'll turn your question around: why should imdb be forced to remove information from its site?
I agree with those saying 'don't blame the messenger'. It's like treating a symptom instead of the disease.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 09:57 PM
Good question. Do they have any legal rights here? I don't think so, but I have nothing to base that on other than a hunch. If they don't, then I'll turn your question around: why should imdb be forced to remove information from its site?
I agree with those saying 'don't blame the messenger'. It's like treating a symptom instead of the disease.

But they ARE treating the disease, too.

I feel they aren't trying to "force" the IMDB to remove the information. They want the people whose info is on the IMDB to be able to remove their date of birth if they choose to do so.

Why do we need our birthdate on the IMDB? Why do people who look me up need to know that? What does it have to do with my work? If they dig they can find it. But if they dig, they can find my home address, too. Doesn't mean I want it on my IMDB page for everyone to see.

CaroGirl
06-21-2010, 10:19 PM
But they ARE treating the disease, too.

I feel they aren't trying to "force" the IMDB to remove the information. They want the people whose info is on the IMDB to be able to remove their date of birth if they choose to do so.

Why do we need our birthdate on the IMDB? Why do people who look me up need to know that? What does it have to do with my work? If they dig they can find it. But if they dig, they can find my home address, too. Doesn't mean I want it on my IMDB page for everyone to see.
People love trivia. For example, when I watch a film, I like to try and guess things like where it was filmed or the country of origin of the actors. The other day I watched something and I swore the actor had a Canadian accent. I went to IMDB and, sure enough, he was Canadian.

I watched a bit of Top Gun and knew Kelly McGillis was taller than Tom Cruise. How much taller? Go to IMDB and find out. It's the same for age or birthdate. Someone might think, hmm, I read somewhere *insert actor here* has the same birthday as me. Let me look it up and see...

defyalllogic
06-21-2010, 10:36 PM
with actors if you look right and act right then your age shouldn't be an issue. if you're 35 but look 24 and act better than the 24 year olds you should get the role.

I see the writer part of it though. if I'm 50 and have teen-aged kids i don't understand and have two screen plays i can work with, both about youths (15-25) the one only difference is one's written by someone i know is under 25 and the other is by someone i know is over 35... i would just guess the younger one would have more credibility and connectivity.

in reality maybe the older person is more social and/or did more research or is the next S. Myers...

I IMBD on my black berry for simple diner conversation things so i can see how easy it could be to accidentally give someone the upper hand.

it's like an author submitting a photo with their manuscripts... maybe someone will assume the better looking one knows more about the fun dating book she's submitting.

it really is a big difference for just a name and an idea... (IMO)

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 10:52 PM
People love trivia.

Yeah, that's true. It's not really a compelling enough reason for me to feel the IMDB should not just give people a break if they don't want it there, though.

Celia Cyanide
06-21-2010, 10:53 PM
with actors if you look right and act right then your age shouldn't be an issue. if you're 35 but look 24 and act better than the 24 year olds you should get the role.

Yes, I should. But I probably won't. I probably won't even get an agent willing to represent me, which will mean I won't even be able to audition for the role.

MsGneiss
06-21-2010, 11:45 PM
They do. But there is only so much they can do about it. The IMDB is not being "attacked." They are just being asked that people be allowed to remove their ages. Why should they not be?

Well, it's pretty clear from the perspective of the IMDB why they don't want to remove the info - it would undermine the completeness of the database, thus making them a less valuable resource.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 12:07 AM
Well, it's pretty clear from the perspective of the IMDB why they don't want to remove the info - it would undermine the completeness of the database, thus making them a less valuable resource.

Why do they need to know my date of birth? Why is the IMDB any more valueable because it lists our birthdates? Why is it even important at all, other than people liking trivia? Every piece of trivia does not need to be listed there in order for it to be a valuable resource.

Synovia
06-22-2010, 12:12 AM
Why do they need to know my date of birth? Why is the IMDB any more valueable because it lists our birthdates? Why is it even important at all, other than people liking trivia? Every piece of trivia does not need to be listed there in order for it to be a valuable resource.

Because the people doing the casting want to know, and the public wants to know. IMDB is an information aggregator. They are providing a product, and your age (which is publicly available info) provides value to their product. If you have a problem with ageism, go after the industry, not IMDB.

mulcahy67
06-22-2010, 12:18 AM
I see the writer part of it though. if I'm 50 and have teen-aged kids i don't understand and have two screen plays i can work with, both about youths (15-25) the one only difference is one's written by someone i know is under 25 and the other is by someone i know is over 35... i would just guess the younger one would have more credibility and connectivity.


I think people sort of read the scripts and justify off of test groups and such more than going "oh, this writer's closer to the age he's writing about" haha. Plus, I would definitely want to read the script of the person under 25, as he probably has very little credibility and very little experience, so I would have to be cautious about this persons work, where as the 35 year old has probably been in the business for almost two decades.

don't really think it works that way much either.
and, well, you could just google it anyway.

i just don't really understand the point of this. all this would do is make someone who does look for their age search five or ten more minutes to find it. if we just want to make people take longer to find ages, cool, but it seems generally a trite idea. hiding the age on IMDB isn't going to help anyone get jobs who wasn't going to get jobs before.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 12:30 AM
Because the people doing the casting want to know, and the public wants to know.

How do you know this? I have no reason to believe they want to know. If anything, the public probably wants to know more about who is dating who. That doesn't mean this information belongs on a database for their work. If they took it down, I doubt the public would even notice, and I doubt casting directors would even care.


IMDB is an information aggregator. They are providing a product, and your age (which is publicly available info) provides value to their product.

How does it provide value to their product?


If you have a problem with ageism, go after the industry, not IMDB.

I am not "going after" the IMDB. I'm only saying that it is reasonable for them to comply with the requests to take down information that the public probably does care about anyway.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 12:34 AM
i just don't really understand the point of this. all this would do is make someone who does look for their age search five or ten more minutes to find it.

Not really. In the case of most lesser known actors, and most writers, if your age isn't on the IMDB, it's probably not that easy to find.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 12:38 AM
How do you know this? I have no reason to believe they want to know. If anything, the public probably wants to know more about who is dating who. That doesn't mean this information belongs on a database for their work. If they took it down, I doubt the public would even notice, and I doubt casting directors would even care.


Then what's the issue?

I understand the ageism issue, and the shitty treatment of actresses in Hollywood, but if casting director's wouldn't care if birthdates AREN'T on IMDB, why is it so terrible that they ARE? Your position seems to be that it's detrimental for actors to have that information up there, but you've just argued that CDs wouldn't care... I'm confused.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 12:43 AM
I understand the ageism issue, and the shitty treatment of actresses in Hollywood, but if casting director's wouldn't care if birthdates AREN'T on IMDB, why is it so terrible that they ARE? Your position seems to be that it's detrimental for actors to have that information up there, but you've just argued that CDs wouldn't care... I'm confused.

I tried to explain this before...if your age is the first thing they see, then that becomes a part of their first impression, which is very important, and effects how they view you from them on. Casting directors typically do not going in asking, "hey, how old is this person?" if they don't see it right away. But if they DO see it right away, it effects what they think of the actor before they have even seen his/her work.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 12:49 AM
I tried to explain this before...if your age is the first thing they see, then that becomes a part of their first impression, which is very important, and effects how they view you from them on. Casting directors typically do not going in asking, "hey, how old is this person?" if they don't see it right away. But if they DO see it right away, it effects what they think of the actor before they have even seen his/her work.

Hmm.

mulcahy67
06-22-2010, 01:12 AM
Not really. In the case of most lesser known actors, and most writers, if your age isn't on the IMDB, it's probably not that easy to find.

yes really. if you can't find it in five or ten minutes, and it's that big of a deal, you call their agent and ask them. and i guess they could lie, but i don't really find lying a good old-fashioned way to fight against "ageism." its just easy to figure out, if you REALLY need to know. hopefully it's not that big of a deal to someone, but just saying. i understand the point of someone getting a first impression off it, but i am not a casting director nor do i talk to much so i don't know how much it actually effects their decisions.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 01:17 AM
yes really. if you can't find it in five or ten minutes, and it's that big of a deal, you call their agent and ask them. easy to find. hopefully it's not that big of a deal to someone, but just saying.

Yes, and calling someone's agent takes much more effort than looking at their IMDB page. With me, you couldn't even do that. It usually isn't that big of a deal to someone. But if screenwriters and actors, who are much more likely to be paying members of the IMDB than the average cititzen, do not want it there, why not do what the paying clientele wants, and remove it?

WendyNYC
06-22-2010, 01:19 AM
I don't see why they wouldn't take it off. What is it adding, really? "Wow, she's *that* old?" I certainly don't write PUSHING 40 OMG above my avatar over there, as much as I don't care if you know my age or not.

mulcahy67
06-22-2010, 01:21 AM
Yes, and calling someone's agent takes much more effort than looking at their IMDB page. With me, you couldn't even do that. It usually isn't that big of a deal to someone. But if screenwriters and actors, who are much more likely to be paying members of the IMDB than the average cititzen, do not want it there, why not do what the paying clientele wants, and remove it?

but aren't most people who do this stuff off of imdb paying members as well? i'm a paying member, i would hope for $124 a year i could find out someones age without having to jump through hoops. i mean, just how many people that are part of the paying clientele want this removed?

ChaosTitan
06-22-2010, 01:23 AM
This thread has certainly educated me. I had no idea industry pros used IMDB. I thought it was geared toward fans. Huh...

Makes me wonder how on earth they got information before the Internet began ruling the world.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 01:24 AM
but aren't most people who do this stuff off of imdb paying members as well? i'm a paying member, i would hope for $124 a year i could find out someones age without having to jump through hoops. i mean, just how many people that are part of the paying clientele want this removed?

I really don't know. It seems that the Writer's Guild is just pushing for the option to have it removed for the people who do not want it there.

Do you really want to know the age of a writer or actor? And if so, why do you need such information? I have never needed it before.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 01:28 AM
Do you really want to know the age of a writer or actor?

Quite often, actually.
But what I want is clearly not the issue here.

Smileycat
06-22-2010, 09:03 AM
They are not asking for it to be "kept private." They are asking that it not be put on the IMDB. It's different for your age to be something that people could find out if they really dug for it than for your age to be right at the top of the first link they see when they google your name.

And it's not just actors, it's writers, too.

Celia - I love your screen name, BTW. I see what you're saying (I think), but don't producers look at IMDb listings to see an artist's work? Don't they use these listings to help choose future cast and crew? Are you saying that they won't hire crew if they are "too old?" That's bad. But, you can find out anyone's age from almost anyplace, can't you?

Miss Plum
06-22-2010, 09:59 AM
Lindsay Lohan is actually 97.
No, she only looks it.

Miss Plum
06-22-2010, 10:07 AM
Why do we need our birthdate on the IMDB? Why do people who look me up need to know that? What does it have to do with my work? If they dig they can find it. But if they dig, they can find my home address, too. Doesn't mean I want it on my IMDB page for everyone to see.
Celia, IMDb is not just an industry site; it's also a fan site. And fans want to know.

Take your age off the Bio section, and it will go right into the FAQs on your Message Board -- that's user content. Modify that out of existence, and actorsages.com will go live and get a million hits in the first hour.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 03:24 PM
Celia - I love your screen name, BTW. I see what you're saying (I think), but don't producers look at IMDb listings to see an artist's work? Don't they use these listings to help choose future cast and crew? Are you saying that they won't hire crew if they are "too old?" That's bad. But, you can find out anyone's age from almost anyplace, can't you?

I've already explained what it is very different to be able to find out someone's age from somewhere else than having their age be the first thing you see on their IMDB page.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 03:30 PM
Celia, IMDb is not just an industry site; it's also a fan site. And fans want to know.

First of all, I don't believe than fans want to know all that badly. At least not to the point that IMDB traffic would decrease if they removed birthdates from the listings. If IMDB could prove this was the case, then it might matter, but for the most part, I don't believe this effects how often anyone uses the IMDB.

Second of all, I don't care if they do. Just because a fan wants to know something doesn't mean I have to tell them. Fans don't pay to use the site, generally. Industry people do. And I sympathize more with those who want their birthdates removed from the site for professional reasons than for those who just "want to know" for trivial reasons.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 04:09 PM
Do you really want to know the age of a writer or actor? And if so, why do you need such information? I have never needed it before.



Second of all, I don't care if they do. Just because a fan wants to know something doesn't mean I have to tell them.

Ah. Well.
You're welcome. Glad I could be a prop in your rhetoric.

shadowwalker
06-22-2010, 04:11 PM
But isn't this whole thing kinda acting as though casting directors didn't know these actors from Adam? An actor that makes it to ImDB is already a known quantity - CDs would know their approximate age if not the actual age already. Or are there new actors on there that have only had a bit part in an Indie that CDs wouldn't really know about? Same with writers - aren't they already known? Or, again, are there newbies listed on there that nobody's really heard of before? (I'm not being facetitious, I really don't know who all is "allowed" on ImDB.)

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 04:13 PM
Here's my question: casting directors. How does their job work?
Are they hired to fill roles in a film?

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 05:04 PM
Ah. Well.
You're welcome. Glad I could be a prop in your rhetoric.

I really don't know what you mean by this, sorry.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 05:07 PM
I really don't know what you mean by this, sorry.

You asked if people were REALLY interested in birthdates on IMDB; when someone (me) said they were, you followed up with "I don't care if they do". I assumed rhetorical gambit, rather than just rudeness. :)

mulcahy67
06-22-2010, 05:09 PM
But isn't this whole thing kinda acting as though casting directors didn't know these actors from Adam? An actor that makes it to ImDB is already a known quantity - CDs would know their approximate age if not the actual age already. Or are there new actors on there that have only had a bit part in an Indie that CDs wouldn't really know about? Same with writers - aren't they already known? Or, again, are there newbies listed on there that nobody's really heard of before? (I'm not being facetitious, I really don't know who all is "allowed" on ImDB.)

are you kidding? there are MILLIONS of people listed on the cast page of IMDB. there's no way these people know them all.

Shadow_Ferret
06-22-2010, 05:10 PM
I don't see why they wouldn't take it off. What is it adding, really?

I write history articles and it's nice to know their birth year.

Although I've found for many, that year seems to be a fluid thing. I've run across a few actors who had several different birth years.

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 05:11 PM
But isn't this whole thing kinda acting as though casting directors didn't know these actors from Adam? An actor that makes it to ImDB is already a known quantity - CDs would know their approximate age if not the actual age already. Or are there new actors on there that have only had a bit part in an Indie that CDs wouldn't really know about? Same with writers - aren't they already known? Or, again, are there newbies listed on there that nobody's really heard of before? (I'm not being facetitious, I really don't know who all is "allowed" on ImDB.)

The thing is, you probably only look up actors and/or directors you have already heard of before. So you don't realize that, yeah, the rest of us are there, too. The IMDB will not accept just any film, but it does not need to be a feature length, or receive distribution of any kind. Traditionally, the requirement is that it has to have been in one film festival, or had one public screening.

If you are not listed on the IMDB, you can buy a pro membership and add yourself. If you have no credits, you can at least add information, such your resume and photos. Many people do this, just because they will more likely be seen if they are on there.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 05:11 PM
I'm still curious as to what a casting director does, how their job works...

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 05:13 PM
You asked if people were REALLY interested in birthdates on IMDB; when someone (me) said they were, you followed up with "I don't care if they do". I assumed rhetorical gambit, rather than just rudeness. :)

Well, all you said was that you wanted to know, you didn't really say why. So I didn't mean to be rude, but I didn't really see why you needed to know it, other than you were just curious. I respect that you might be curious, but I still sympathize with the actors and writers.

ETA: that was mostly directed at mulcahy, who said s/he was a paying member. My arguement is that if people who pay to use the IMDB do NOT want this information on there, shouldn't that take precendence over people who do NOT pay, and DO want it on there?

Celia Cyanide
06-22-2010, 05:14 PM
I'm still curious as to what a casting director does, how their job works...

yeah, I was getting to that. Sorry...the casting director does not make the final decision. The director does. But the casting director find people to show to the director, basically.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 05:16 PM
yeah, I was getting to that. Sorry...the casting director does not make the final decision. The director does. But the casting director find people to show to the director, basically.

So, they work for the film, finding actors with the potential to fill particular roles, yes?

Smileycat
06-22-2010, 05:17 PM
I've already explained what it is very different to be able to find out someone's age from somewhere else than having their age be the first thing you see on their IMDB page.

So, their main complaint is that their age is listed first. Okay. I see the age is usually listed. Where do they get the age from? Do you know? Could you keep it unlisted if you wanted to?

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 05:36 PM
So, they work for the film, finding actors with the potential to fill particular roles, yes?

Casting Directors are the first line. They are the ones who sift through all the headshots/resumes from agents, host the initial cattle call auditions, and whittle down the choice so that then a director can have a look at the top few actors for the part. They have their own casting houses and run a business based on being able to find what a director is looking for. Sometimes the director/producer will be in the room, but often in the first round you audition for a camera which records what you are doing for a director somewhere else to look at.

As an actor you want to be known by casting directors so they call you in for that initial round. They have a great deal of power because if you aren't known to them, they can easily just dismiss your picture without so much as a glance. They are the first step through the door.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 05:42 PM
Casting Directors are the first line. They are the ones who sift through all the headshots/resumes from agents, host the initial cattle call auditions, and whittle down the choice so that then a director can have a look at the top few actors for the part. They have their own casting houses and run a business based on being able to find what a director is looking for.

As an actor you want to be known by casting directors so they call you in for that initial round. Sometimes the director/producer will be in the room, but often in the first round you audition for a camera which records what you are doing for a director somewhere else to look at.

Thanks for this, TP.

So, based on my reading of what a casting director does -- the potential size of cattle call auditions, the number of headshots/resumes, the sheer volume of potential candidates for specific roles -- it strikes me that an easily available birthdate might actually have some value, and not strictly be a symptom of ageism. If you're casting for, say, Gossip Girl, would there not be some value in knowing -- immediately and off-the-top -- that an actress born in 1965 is probably not in the running for the role of a 14 year-old schoolgirl?

I'm certainly not arguing that ageism isn't a problem in the film industry -- I'm well aware that it is, and that it's pretty reprehensible on both a personal and societal level -- but is removing a potentially useful tool like this really a solution to it?

shadowwalker
06-22-2010, 05:50 PM
are you kidding? there are MILLIONS of people listed on the cast page of IMDB. there's no way these people know them all.

As I stated - I don't know who all is in there. So no, I wasn't kidding. It's why I put it out there - for clarification if they did list every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Chill.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 06:02 PM
Thanks for this, TP.

So, based on my reading of what a casting director does -- the potential size of cattle call auditions, the number of headshots/resumes, the sheer volume of potential candidates for specific roles -- it strikes me that an easily available birthdate might actually have some value, and not strictly be a symptom of ageism. If you're casting for, say, Gossip Girl, would there not be some value in knowing -- immediately and off-the-top -- that an actress born in 1965 is probably not in the running for the role of a 14 year-old schoolgirl?



Actually hon, not really. Actual age is meaningless for film/theatre. Because it doesn't matter what age you actually are, but rather what age you look.

Case in point, me. I was sent to audition for a 25yearold. When I was . . . 25. I showed up, did the audition, and the guy auditioning me was looking at me funny. Finally he asked how old I was. I told him. He was shocked. You see I look way younger than I am. I had the same problem auditioning for a 28yearold at . . . 28.

Then there was the girl cast as Rory's best friend in the Gilmore Girls. Alexis Bledel was the correct age, 16, but her best friend? Late twenties.

The problem with showing the actual numbered ages is that it is irrelevant to casting and yet at the same time can cloud judgment. I know, it doesn't make sense, if it's irrelevant why should they care, but for some reason it still seems to make a difference.

When you know that someone is older than they are supposed to be, even if that person looks the right age, it can still affect the end result. I look mid-twenties but I have director friends who don't even think of casting me as a university student because they know my real age. I have to remind them that I don't look 30. It isn't just for vanity's sake that actors keep their ages a secret, it's because irrational decisions can be made from knowing the truth. The girl who played Jackie on That 70s Show, for example, auditioned at 14 I believe. She lied and said she was 18. She got the role. Only when she got the role did they learn her age and that they'd have to deal with all the guardian consent stuff. Had the casting director known her young age from the start they might not have even let her audition because they didn't want the hassle.

See? I know you want to prove it isn't a big deal, but it actually really is. It shouldn't be, but we're not talking rational here.


ETA: I realised then the next question would be, how does a casting director then get resumes from actors for the correct age range if age is meaningless? A casting director puts out the call: MARY - late 20s, fiesty but insecure, has a girl next door look. Then the agents choose which of their clients are appropriate to send out for this call. Once the casting director has a pile of headshots/resumes they sift through the pictures to select who they think looks most like MARY. The casting director might also put out the call for a couple actors they personally know who might be right for the role as well. So that's how a casting director gets actors who look a certain age range, agents send them to them.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 06:10 PM
Actually hon, not really. Actual age is meaningless for film/theatre. Because it doesn't matter what age you actually are, but rather what age you look.

Case in point, me. I was sent to audition for a 25yearold. When I was . . . 25. I showed up, did the audition, and the guy auditioning me was looking at me funny. Finally he asked how old I was. I told him. He was shocked. You see I look way younger than I am. I had the same problem auditioning for a 28yearold at . . . 28.

Then there was the girl cast as Rory's best friend in the Gilmore Girls. Alexis Bledel was the correct age, 16, but her best friend? Late twenties.

The problem with showing the actual numbered ages is that it is irrelevant to casting and yet at the same time can cloud judgment. I know, it doesn't make sense, if it's irrelevant why should they care, but for some reason it still seems to make a difference.

When you know that someone is older than they are supposed to be, even if that person looks the right age, it can still affect the end result. I look mid-twenties but I have director friends who don't even think of casting me as a university student because they know my real age. I have to remind them that I don't look 30. It isn't just for vanity's sake that actors keep their ages a secret, it's because irrational decisions can be made from knowing the truth. The girl who played Jackie on That 70s Show, for example, auditioned at 14 I believe. She lied and said she was 18. She got the role. Only when she got the role did they learn her age and that they'd have to deal with all the guardian consent stuff. Had the casting director known her young age from the start they might not have even let her audition because they didn't want the hassle.

See? I know you want to prove it isn't a big deal, but it actually really is. It shouldn't be, but we're not talking rational here.

(shrugs)

Okay.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 06:15 PM
(shrugs)

Okay.


lol, hon, you're making good points. Mine is simply that you are being rational, the industry isn't. That's all.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 06:18 PM
Actually, no, not okay.

By my reading, there is discrimination both on the basis of age, and on the basis of appearance. No surprise there. But knowledge of actual age is used to both justify that discrimination, AND to address it?

No, it's not rational. My guess, though, and sadly for you and CC, is that whether the birthdate is on IMDB or not isn't going to make one bit of difference to the bigger picture. But hey, clearly I know nothing.

Thankfully, this whole mess is a dank fucking rabbit hole that I don't have to spend anymore time in. Godspeed.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 06:33 PM
Actually, no, not okay.

By my reading, there is discrimination both on the basis of age, and on the basis of appearance. No surprise there. But knowledge of actual age is used to both justify that discrimination, AND to address it?

You are correct sir! Fun game isn't it?


No, it's not rational. My guess, though, and sadly for you and CC, is that whether the birthdate is on IMDB or not isn't going to make one bit of difference to the bigger picture. But hey, clearly I know nothing.

It might, it might not. I was just explaining why age doesn't matter and yet stupidly does. I personally don't care what's on imdb, but I wanted simply to explain why some would not be fond of their age being there.

I should add that in the UK, actors have their birth dates on their resumes. So clearly different stokes for different folks.


Thankfully, this whole mess is a dank fucking rabbit hole that I don't have to spend anymore time in. Godspeed.

I can get how this whole conversation can be frustrating, just try being in the biz my friend. But nobody here is trying to antagonise you. We just want to explain how things work. And yeah, friggin' obnoxious isn't it? People complain about the writing world, but it ain't nothing close to the acting world.

CaroGirl
06-22-2010, 06:34 PM
If I were in the business, I'd be raging effing mad. I asked, but it was not addressed by the eggsperts: what role do the unions have to make sure their members are NOT discriminated against based on age? I always thought unions had a lot of power. Clearly, these unions have less power than other unions I've heard about. I guess money is the only motivator these days (since I remember the writers' strike only a scant couple of years ago grinding the television industry to a halt).

katiemac
06-22-2010, 06:42 PM
This thread has certainly educated me. I had no idea industry pros used IMDB. I thought it was geared toward fans. Huh...

I was in a room full of industry pros yesterday, and half of them were on IMDB. Journalists, publicists, managers, etc., not just casting agents or producers.

I've used it professionally and personally. Personally, I like it being fully comprehensive. Professionally, I totally understand why some people don't like it.

If Facebook told me I had to share my birthday, I'd delete my account. Doesn't mean a little digging from someone who really wanted to know couldn't figure it out. I realize it's not Facebook, but more and more people's personal information is floating out there outside of their control. Privacy is a big issue, and whereas public figures do have their information shared more casually (and legally) than the average person, it's a little unsettling that your personal information can be refused removal from another website.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 06:42 PM
If I were in the business, I'd be raging effing mad. I asked, but it was not addressed by the eggsperts: what role do the unions have to make sure their members are NOT discriminated against based on age? I always thought unions had a lot of power. Clearly, these unions have less power than other unions I've heard about. I guess money is the only motivator these days (since I remember the writers' strike only a scant couple of years ago grinding the television industry to a halt)


The problem is ageism is kind of necessary. After all, like many have said here, you want actors you can believe are the roles they are cast in. How many people have complained that the Harry Potter kids look too old now (though they don't actually. I believe actually that's an excellent example of how knowing an age affects how you look at an age. Emma Watson still looks like she's 17, which is why it's kind of creepy to see her model in a sexy fashion, even though she's actually 20)?

So how do you prove that a person would have been right for the role and they were discriminated against because of their age? The casting director can simply say that the look wasn't quite right, the acting wasn't strong enough etc. It's a really hard case to make when the whole purpose of casting is casting based on subjectivity.

Acting unions protect (in theory) their members once they have a job, so they don't work crazy hours without good pay, so that they get fed, so that they get time off, so that they work in safe conditions. But they really can't protect actors from not being cast. There's simply no way to prove isms.

I mean when you've got Michael Bay casting his new Transformers girl because he's seen her in her underwear (she's never acted before, but she was in a Victoria Secret ad he directed, and did audition for the part in the Transformers movie in her underwear), then you can understand how this business works.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 06:44 PM
I can get how this whole conversation can be frustrating, just try being in the biz my friend. But nobody here is trying to antagonise you. We just want to explain how things work. And yeah, friggin' obnoxious isn't it? People complain about the writing world, but it ain't nothing close to the acting world.

No, I'm not feeling antagonized. And I think I've figured it out.

I've been coming at this all wrong.

I think I was under the impression that this was an attempt -- and a righteous one, in my mind -- to tear down the system -- to do something against the ageism so prevalent in Hollywood. My points were to that effect, and about the futility of such an effort -- taking the dates off IMDB struck me as far too little.

But I was mistaken, I think, in my impression. This isn't about tearing down the system, this is about gaming it. This is about working within the rampant ageism and objectification (has anyone noticed that "talent" hasn't come up once in this conversation, IIRC?) to buy a bit more notice, a bit more attention. If a casting director has to look up a birthdate, that means an actor has caught his attention, and has held it for a moment longer than if all the info had been right there.

I get it now. This is about careers, and not about any -isms. This is about working within the system, not trying to change it.

I can respect that. Couldn't do it myself, but if you're strong enough, I can't fault you for it. We all do what we can.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 07:12 PM
It's tough Willie. All I can do as an actor is play the game when it doesn't conflict with my morals, and keep working on the only thing I have control over, which is my talent.

Which you are right hasn't been mentioned in this debate as it is so rare the talent outweighs looks in this business it isn't really pertinent to this conversation. Still, I hope to be the exception to the rule, and will keep on keeping on.

Btw, the reason us actors continue with all of this is because deep down we love acting. Just as you all love writing. I have to act. I have no choice. Trust me, if I could quit, I would. Just as I am sure some of you would quit writing if you could so as to avoid the frustration of rejection and the unfairness of the publishing industry.

willietheshakes
06-22-2010, 07:26 PM
It's tough Willie. All I can do as an actor is play the game when it doesn't conflict with my morals, and keep working on the only thing I have control over, which is my talent.

No, I understand entirely -- I was coming at it from entirely the wrong direction earlier on.

Almost all of us participate in aspects of our lives which we don't care for, no matter our jobs. I wish it were different for you, and I wish it were different for me.

All we can do is the best we can. I understand -- and respect -- that entirely.

Celia Cyanide
06-23-2010, 02:09 AM
Yeah, I think you and Toothpaste were able to explain it better than I was able.


This isn't about tearing down the system, this is about gaming it.

Basically, what this is about is not blaming the IMDB for ageism, or trying to cure ageism by changing the IMDB. It's just something we feel we have to do sometimes because ageism isn't going away, at least not in the small window of time we have to try and make it.

I am perceived as an actress who can play 20's. However, if I send my info to a casting director and that casting director looks me up on the IMDB and sees that I am 34, I am suddenly not an actress who can play 20s anymore. And this is before s/he has even met me. That doesn't mean I won't be able to audition and even do a good job and perhaps get the part, but it changes their initial perception.

As an aside, I tried to delete my age on the IMDB, and I was not allowed to.

MsGneiss
06-23-2010, 04:30 AM
Second of all, I don't care if they do. Just because a fan wants to know something doesn't mean I have to tell them. Fans don't pay to use the site, generally. Industry people do.

I obviously don't have statistics to prove this, but my guess is that IMDB makes a lot more money from advertising revenue than from their paid subscriptions from industry people. I mean, there are a lot more fan girls out there than casting directors. If they allow for inconsistent information, their hits will decrease, and their bottom line will suffer. I'm sorry, but I sympathize with the IMDB. Information should be readily available and easily accessible.

MsGneiss
06-23-2010, 04:45 AM
The problem with showing the actual numbered ages is that it is irrelevant to casting and yet at the same time can cloud judgment. I know, it doesn't make sense, if it's irrelevant why should they care, but for some reason it still seems to make a difference.


But any number of things can cloud judgment and sway that first impression. The casting director might assume that you might have a certain "look" based on your last name, or a certain accent based on where you are from. Isn't all that available on that initial info sheet that they view? Discrimination is wrong, but hiding information doesn't seem like the right way to tackle this problem.

Celia Cyanide
06-23-2010, 05:02 AM
But any number of things can cloud judgment and sway that first impression. The casting director might assume that you might have a certain "look" based on your last name, or a certain accent based on where you are from. Isn't all that available on that initial info sheet that they view? Discrimination is wrong, but hiding information doesn't seem like the right way to tackle this problem.

It may not "seem" like it to you. But I've been an actor for several years, and not revealing your actual age does make a difference.

Celia Cyanide
06-23-2010, 05:04 AM
I obviously don't have statistics to prove this, but my guess is that IMDB makes a lot more money from advertising revenue than from their paid subscriptions from industry people. I mean, there are a lot more fan girls out there than casting directors. If they allow for inconsistent information, their hits will decrease, and their bottom line will suffer. I'm sorry, but I sympathize with the IMDB. Information should be readily available and easily accessible.

Are fan girls going to stop going to the IMDB just because some actors don't have their birthdates listed anymore? Hardly. There may be more fan girls than industry people, but the industry people use the IMDB much more.

Toothpaste
06-23-2010, 07:38 AM
But any number of things can cloud judgment and sway that first impression. The casting director might assume that you might have a certain "look" based on your last name, or a certain accent based on where you are from. Isn't all that available on that initial info sheet that they view? Discrimination is wrong, but hiding information doesn't seem like the right way to tackle this problem.

You're right about all this.

Which is why Archibald Alexander Leach called himself Cary Grant. And Herschlag became Portman for Natalie. And Nicholas changed his last name from Coppala to Cage so he would be hired for his merit alone. And Tara Leigh Patrick decided to sex up her image by changing her name to Carmen Electra.

Discrimination is wrong. But it happens. So why is hiding a fact that is utterly irrelevant and yet still used to make biased choices a bad idea? No one is being hurt by it. Sometimes a lie can be a good thing, especially when you're lying to people who are irrational.

Celia Cyanide
06-24-2010, 07:38 AM
Discrimination is wrong. But it happens. So why is hiding a fact that is utterly irrelevant and yet still used to make biased choices a bad idea? No one is being hurt by it. Sometimes a lie can be a good thing, especially when you're lying to people who are irrational.

I would add that it isn't even lying to hide information that isn't a potential employers business anyway, but will still be used against you. They need to know your casting age, not your actual age.

I don't know how to drive. If I'm at a job interview, do I tell them I don't know how to drive? Of course not. If the issue of transportation comes up, I say I don't have a vehicle, which is also true. But if I say I don't know how to drive, they assume I'm stupid, which is not true at all.

When you want someone to hire you for the job, you put your best foot forward. That usually means not revealing anything that will, rightly or wrongly, make them not want to hire you.