SAG general counsel weighs in on divisive case, says actress could be branded a “complainer”
The general counsel of the Screen Actors Guild says in a new court filing that a woman suing IMDb for listing her age as 40 could be "blacklisted" as a "complainer" if her identity is revealed.
The actress, who filed the suit last month under the name Jane Doe, is seeking $1 million from the online database and its owner, Amazon.com. Her attorneys said in the suit that "youth is king" in Hollywood and that exposing her true age could cost her movie and TV jobs.
IMDb has asked that her name be revealed to help it defend itself in the lawsuit. It said in a filing two weeks ago that the actress is "selfish" and that trying to hide her true age is the same as trying to commit fraud by misleading studios and audiences. The company has said it believes it knows who the plaintiff is but cannot be sure.
The suit has set off a fierce debate about ageism and privacy.
Also read: Actress Sues IMDb for Revealing Her True Age
In a filing to support the actress' contention that her name should not be revealed, SAG general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland notes that "one of the most shameful elements of the history of the entertainment industry was its active participation in blacklisting creative professionals, including actors, based on their political views."
He said many performers still tell him about their modern-day "concerns about being blacklisted once identified as a 'complainer,'" and that Doe could suffer the same form of blacklisting if her name is revealed.
"If she is required to identify herself publicly in this matter, the very harm she is complaining about will be drastically exacerbated," he wrote. "The real effect of this is effectively retaliation for challenging IMDb’s practices."
This isn't the first time SAG has weighed in on the issue of revealing performers' true ages: Last month, the union and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists jointly called on IMDb to end the practice, saying it could lead to age discrimination.
In another filing, the actress' lead counsel, John W. Dozier Jr., said his client has suffered retaliation — including having her IMDb page flagged by the company — as well as harassment and ridicule. He said it would only worsen if her identity were revealed.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.