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Actors to IMDB: Don't show our ages!

Wonderwall, Friday, November 12, 2010, 4:02pm (PST)

By Drew Mackie

For actors, versatility is a meal ticket -- not just the ability to do both comedy and drama but also to pass for someone a little bit older or a little bit younger... or a lot younger. Think about actresses in their twenties playing high school students, actress in their thirties playing nubile young women, and actresses in their fifties and sixties playing characters not stripped of their sexuality. It totally makes sense that actresses would want every shot they can get at a part.

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It's for this reason, among others, that the Writers Guild of America is asking the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) to allow celebs and other movie-making folks to remove their birthdates from the site. It's not just actors; according to The Wrap, writers could also be discriminated against if they're older. And in all honestly, it's not A-listers like Nicole Kidman (who's 43), Julia Roberts (who's also 43) and Sandra Bullock (who's 46) who have been in the public eye for years and who will probably find work in Hollywood as long they want. It's the up-and-comers and lesser-knowns who would benefit most from an air of mystery around how long they've been around.

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But that's not to say that some stars just below the top wouldn't benefit as well. Consider Heather Locklear, who's not on the level of Kidman and company, but who has been in Hollywood, playing more-or-less similar, sexy roles for more than 30 years. Would she potentially be better able to score a role if someone could forget that she's 49 years old? It's a similar case for ladies like Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, the cast of "Desperate Housewives" and the others included in this article's image gallery. As Allure points out, simply hiding your age is a better option than wrecking your body in an attempt to look young: "Obviously stars have been lying about their ages since the dawn of Hollywood, and now more than ever many are willing to use cosmetic procedures, personal trainers and any other anti-aging tools they can find to keep looking young."

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IMDB officials have responded to the Writers Guild that the website isn't a promotional one but an informational one, and that actors' and crew members' profiles provide factual, biographical information. Furthermore, not every person on IMDB has their birthdate listed, so presumably a celeb-to-be could remain "ageless" until she makes it big. However, even if IMDB were to yank birthdates from profiles of celebs who feel their careers are being hurt, information about celebs exists everywhere online. Wikipedia, for example, lists the age of any notable person for whom that info is available.

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It remains to be seen what IMDB will ultimately decide to do, but it's clear that celebs at least want a fair shake at playing five, ten, or 20 years beneath their actual age. Maybe Tuned In, Time magazine's TV blog, has the right idea: "I say we make a deal: Ditch the ages and replace them with detailed information of cosmetic-surgery procedures."

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