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  • Dave Barry

"The New Hollywood" Interviews David C Barry, Ageism In Hollywood Panel Producer & Writer

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

How many of you find stereotypes in Hollywood discriminating? We here at TNH strive to engage and open up dialogues surrounding these topics as well as create opportunities on how to change these stereotypes.

We are excited to share an opportunity through Women in Film surrounding a particular form of discrimination in Hollywood, ageism. 

The pressures of Hollywood to remain young in order to remain relevant begin at 20 (or even earlier). Hollywood’s message permeates our culture. We fear and marginalize Age and Aging, yet it’s one thingallhuman beings have in common and that we least accept in each other. Any actress will tell you that once you’re beyond a certain age, the already limited number of movie, television and stage roles offered will decrease even further. But this stark truth also looms over relatively young men and women, and permeates all aspects of the industry – from writers and directors to agents, studio execs, grips and stunt people. Hollywood often puts blinders on when it comes to one particular prejudice: Ageism. Why? How much of this is a cultural problem and how much is a Hollywood problem? What can be done about it and who can lead the charge? These questions, long overdue, have inspired a panel discussion onAgeism in Hollywood…scheduled to take place on the evening of August 5th. A group has been put together with Women in Film to talk about this very topic. Lesley Ann Warren, JoBeth Williams, Kathy Griffin and Lynn Whitfield are the actresses confirmed to be on the panel. Talent from different sides of the industry and topic will also participate, including pioneering director Michael Lindsay Hogg, manager and publicist Harlan Boll and best selling author Ashton Applewhite. Actress Sharon Lawrence will lead the discussion as moderator.

Barry, also a writer, is no stranger to the issue of ageism. His script, “The Lullaby League”, about a group of veteran Hollywood actresses, was well-received by the audience and critics at a stage reading of his script at The Strasberg Theater, but the power brokers in attendance had a different focus: “They pulled me and Michael (Lindsay-Hogg) aside and told us that no one wanted to watch a bunch of old people. Especially women. That a show about older Hollywood actresses who’ve been relegated to the periphery was relegated to the periphery because it would star older Hollywood actresses is a frustrating irony”, says Barry, who it turns out is in legendary company with pioneering producer and writer Norman Lear, whose latest pilot “Guess Who Died” has also died for similar reasons.

Ageism in the industry may not go away anytime soon. However, an educated panel discussion with smart industry insiders can certainly bring greater awareness to the issue. David says, “We ‘grow’ up, but we ‘get’ old. That wording always struck me, because not only does it deny the growth inherent in the aging process, it also implies that aging is something you ‘get’ – something that can be prevented by washing your hands or, in the case of aging, using a face cream. The sad fact is: Aging scares us. As people working in the industry, we have the ability to change that. We have the responsibility to show that there is value to every stage of life.” Panel Co-producer Robyn Rosenfeld believes perception has a lot to do with age discrimination: “Remaining relevant at every age means rejecting age discrimination along with the negative stereotypes that go with it. How can we in the entertainment industry, help buck the clichés and create new messages? How do we help transform the negative way we view aging for our children, and for our culture at large?”

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