13 November 2011
It's a joke almost as old as show business itself. The aging actor - or, the more common stereotype, actress - who insists they can play characters decades younger than they are.
In our modern information age, though, it's no laughing matter.
In October, an actress filed suit against Amazon and its subsidiary, the Internet Movie Database, for posting her birth date on the latter website.
The world's most comprehensive repository of information about films, television shows and just about everybody who's ever worked on them, IMDb has become the standard reference for not only journalists and fans, but increasingly for folks in the industry who want to check out potential hires.
"In many ways, it is a privacy issue for artists, and it does tie their hands a little bit if there's too much truth out there about them," said Jorja Fox, who despite having her real age outed on the Internet when she was younger, went on to an impressive acting career in such popular shows as "ER," "The West Wing" and "CSI."
"Our ability to create characters and put a veil of believability around what we do - that's the whole idea," Fox continued. "The Internet's been really amazing in a lot of ways, like getting people out there. But in other ways, it's sort of made that job harder and harder to do over these years."
Today, it's character and everyday working actors - though much younger ones - who have the biggest problem with IMDb birth dates.