(CHUCKLES) Poorly. For directors it’s good. You can stay pretty late in your
career. For writers, forty seems to be the wall. I’ll be fifty in October. It seems
to be the cutoff. All these executives seem to be 27. They want to hire people that
are young.
Alan McElroy cannot hide his race or age as a writer since meeting with directors, agents,
and managers is standard in the industry:
It’s the meeting part. I’ve got the grey goatee. Candidly speaking I used to dye my
goatee before I went to L.A. Then when I tell them the ages of my kids they’d have to
reassess. They’d think was a certain age and then realize I was older. I don’t feel like
dying my hair anymore.
Age is still a huge issue. There was a lawsuit brought to a member of the Writer’s
Guild against the film industry and the TV industry about ageism. I wasn’t a part of
the suit. But ageism is a huge issue. The fight against being pushed out of our job
because you’ve hit a certain number.
Marc Jaffe, a comedy writer and member of the Writer’s Guild, is a part of the
discrimination lawsuit that was recently settled in court to a tune of $70-million. What is
apparent is that this lawsuit was highly unusual as noted in the Los Angeles Times article:
The case captured widespread attention because it highlighted what has long been
a delicate subject in Hollywood, where complaints about ageism have dogged the
industry for years, even inspiring a documentary called “Power and Fear: The
Hollywood Graylist.” Although many writers privately complain about discrimination,
few have been willing to take the issue to court for fear of losing their jobs, making
the lawsuit highly unusual. The case won a crucial boost from the Writers Build of
America. Although the union was not a party to the case, it provided some of the key
demographic research that helped buttress the age-discrimination claims. The
guild’s periodic diversity reports have found evidence that older workers are
underrepresented on writing staffs, particularly at the major networks. (Verrier, R.,
2010, January 23)
Jaffe relates his experience when it comes to age and creativity in the comedy arena, “I
think younger age is valued because people want what’s new. They want the new hot
thing. They want the twenty-year-old market. If you are of that age, they think you can
relate better.” He goes on to discuss the Writer’s Guild suit:
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