SAG-AFTRA Seeks to Join IMDb Suit Over Actor-Age Law

SAG-AFTRA has asked to become a defendant in IMDb.com’s lawsuit to invalidate the new state law requiring the IMDB Pro subscription website to remove actors ages if requested.

IMDb sued former California attorney general Kamala Harris in November over the law. In a federal court filing on Monday, the performers union asked to join the suit as a defendant, saying the union “is in a unique position to defend the constitutionality of this law, because of its expertise concerning the phenomenon of rampant age discrimination in the entertainment industry that gave rise to its involvement as the sponsor of AB 1687 and to the passage of this legislation.”

SAG-AFTRA is in a unique position to defend the constitutionality of AB 1687,” the filing also said. “SAG-AFTRA receives discrimination complaints and grievances from its members and gathers information on age discrimination in the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA’s sponsorship of AB 1687 arose from this institutional knowledge of common entertainment industry practices.”

The suit alleges that the law is unconstitutional. It also asserts that the law does not address the causes of age discrimination and asked law week for a preliminary injunction.

IMDb said in that request that the law “is unconstitutionally over-inclusive because it requires IMDb to censor the factual age-related information of producers, directors, casting agents, and myriad other entertainment professionals, many of whom face no realistic risk of age discrimination from the publication of their ages on IMDb.”

SAG-AFTRA lobbied for the legislation with President Gabrielle Carteris, who has contended that she might not have been cast in “Beverly Hills 90210” as high school valedictorian and newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman had her actual age been known at the time (she was 29 when she was cast as a 16-year-old). “Beverly Hills 90210” aired from 1990 to 2000.

Carteris said in a message to members Tuesday that IMDb is now in “open violation” of the law.

” The California Attorney General has the legal responsibility to defend the law,” she said. “SAG-AFTRA also will be actively participating in defending the law and in making sure the courts understand the damage being done by IMDb’s insistence on making performers’ dates of birth available to casting decision makers.”

“While we had hoped IMDb would choose to abandon its stubborn insistence on damaging performers’ careers by forcing age information on casting personnel, SAG-AFTRA remains fully committed to seeing an end to this practice. This is an effort that has been years in the making and that may take more time before it’s done. We will defend this law and see it enforced as well as taking whatever other steps are necessary to achieve that goal.”

Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate in November to represent California, replacing the retiring Barbara Boxer. Xavier Becerra has been designated by Gov. Jerry Brown as the replacement for Harris.

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