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 thing all human 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 on Ageism 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?”
This panel consists of industry professionals willing to tell their stories and offer ideas on ways to make the system more inclusive. For press interviews or to live stream, contact Barry Rogers: 214-907-8875 The Hollywood Reporter will be present and Popwrapped will be Live Streaming.
Bios of the Panelists:
David C Barry (Panel Producer)
David C Barry has spent the majority of his career as a writer and producer of live events. He has most recently written for Ellen Burstyn on a Sarah Bernhardt biopic as well as with pioneering director Michael Lindsay-Hogg on “The Lullaby League”, a comedy/drama about a group of veteran Hollywood actress who’ve been relegated to the periphery of the business because of their age. Barry is also the creator of that project’s prequel, the award-winning cross-platform project “Tinsel’s Town,” a satire about our culture’s celebration of fame at the expense of talent.
Barry is a graduate of Rutgers College where his mentor, Sandy Flitterman-Lewis first exposed him to feminist film theory – he’s been an ardent feminist ever since. “Sandy glued feminist goggles to my eyeballs; they’re what I view movies and the world through.”
Robyn Rosenfeld (Panel Co-Producer)
Robyn Rosenfeld has spent most of her career producing, distributing, and overseeing international sales for feature films and television.
As Vice President of High Line Pictures and Sovereign Films, Rosenfeld most recently Executive Produced the feature film, EFFIE GRAY, written by Emma Thompson and starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson,and Julie Walters. She also oversaw International Sales for the acclaimed documentary JODOROWSKY’S DUNE for City Film, which received a nomination for Best Documentary from the National Board of Review and was also listed on Oscars Documentary Feature Short List for 2014. She is currently working on the upcoming feature film, TUNNELS OF CU CHI written by Gary Trudeau.
Rosenfeld also Executive Produced HBO’s CREATURE FEATURES, an original series of five Primetime Movies, which premiered in 2001.
Non- profit work includes Board of Directors – Dance Camera West, an annual Dance Media Festival that supports Dance films. Rosenfeld also served for three years on the event planning committee for the fundraiser DANCING FOR NED on behalf of the Cedars Sinai Women’s Cancer Research team.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Rosenfeld received her B.A.in English Literature from The Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
Author and activist Ashton Applewhite has been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. She blogs at This Chair Rocks, speaks widely, has written for Harper’s and Playboy, and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? The author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, Ashton is a leading spokesperson for a movement to mobilize against discrimination on the basis of age.
Harlan Boll (BHBPR) is an independent publicist, specializing in literary, personality, theatre, event and non-profit PR. A list of past and recent clients is a who’s who of classic Hollywood. Harlan serves as special PR advisor to The Smithsonian Institution and The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences as well as The Hollywood Museum and the world famous Magic Castle.
Two-time Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin is a towering figure on television, on tour and in publishing with her universally recognized brand of pull-no-punches comedy. She is also an outspoken advocate and activist and has been honored by The Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, The Trevor Project and The Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America. Kathy has been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for writing and starring in an unprecedented 20 televised stand-up specials – more than any comedian in history.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg is an award-winning director of television, film and theater who is considered a pioneer of music video, directing videos for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. His Broadway credits include Whose Life Is It Anyway and Agnes of God, and has directed such luminaries as Geraldine Page, Amanda Plummer and Diane Keaton. Michael is a 5 time BAFTA nominee and winner for projects like Brideshead Revisited as well as the director of the original ground-breaking production of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart at The Public Theater.
Lesley Ann Warren:
Award-winning actress Lesley Ann Warren found stardom on the small screen in the title role of the legendary Rogers & Hammerstein’s musical adaptation of Cinderella. But it was her brilliant performance in Blake Edwards’ comic masterpiece, Victor/Victoria, that won her nominations for an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe, as well as winning a New York Film Critics Award and a People’s Choice Award. Her many film roles include such fan favorites as Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey, Mel Brooks’ Life Stinks and Clue as well as recurring roles in television including Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives and In Plain Sight.
Lynn Whitfield began acting in theater before progressing to a successful career in film and television that has spanned over 3 decades. She received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her break-through portrayal of Josephine Baker before starring in films like Eve’s Bayou, Stepmom, Head of State and The Women. Her many television credits include roles in Boston Public, Without a Trace and How To Get Away With Murder and she is currently starring in The Oprah Winfrey Network’s Greenleaf. Lynn has also won 5 NAACP Image Awards.
Jobeth William’s career has spanned stage, screen and television starring in roles in such classic films as Stir Crazy, Poltergeist and The Big Chill. A three-time Emmy Award-nominee, she has had many roles in television, starring in the TV series The Client and Private Practice and has had recurring roles in Frasier and Dexter. JoBeth also earned an Academy Award nomination in her directorial debut, for her short film On Hope. Since 2009, she has served as the President of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.