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Show Biz Age-Discrimination Showdown

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Hollywood is about to take a look at its biggest enemy: getting older. Variety reports that the California Commission on Aging has formed a coalition with the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Women in Film to combat ageism in the industry that has been accused of being obsessed with youth. At issue is the lack of representation of people over 40 in film and TV. The trade paper reports that a new organization, called the Industry Coalition for Age Equity in the News Media, is set to hold a press conference Thursday to raise awareness on the matter. Former SAG president Ed Asner, 72, and California Sen. John Vasconcellos, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Aging and Long-Term Care, are due to be among the attendees, reports Variety. Vasconcellos has authored Senate Bill 953, which includes a mandate that the state join the coalition “to work with the entertainment industry to change cultural attitudes and perceptions of aging and older adults, with the goal of making the workforce more receptive to older workers.” Variety also notes that statistics released recently by the actors union showed that only 35 percent of all SAG roles in features and on TV in 2001 went to performers older than 40. By comparison, the 2000 U.S. Census put the country’s median age at 35.3 years.