TEXT OF STORY
Here's a Hollywood drama that's been eight years in the making: A group of forty-something television writers has settled the first of a slew of age-discrimination cases. The settlement's going to cost the talent agency International Creative Management $4.5 million. There are still 21 more suits to go against other agencies, other producers and other studios. And Marketplace's Renita Jablonski reports the writers aren't getting any younger.
Renita Jablonski: Larry Mintz has a pretty impressive resume. He was a writer for hit shows like "Sanford and Son," "Family Matters" and "Married with Children." [clip from the song "Love and Marriage"] Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but being 50 and a successful sit-com writer do not. At least they didn't for Mintz. That's how old he was in 2000 when he joined other TV writers in a massive age-discrimination lawsuit. Mintz says he stopped getting TV work in the '90s. It's a situation Tony Segall has seen many times.
Tony Segall: We've known for a long time that our members' careers are unfortunately short.
Tony Segall is General Counsel for the Writers Guild of America West. He says Hollywood is obsessed with young audiences, and older writers are being boxed out of opportunities earlier than ever.
Segall: Writers should be hired because they're talented writers, not because they are the particular type of people they are being asked to write about.
As part of the settlement with International Creative Management, the agency could be required to take part in a jobs program to promote the work of older writers. ICM's employees will also have to attend training seminars on age discrimination. Bob McCann is a business professor at the University of Southern California.
Bob McCann I think it puts Hollywood, you know, on call that, "Hey, this is an issue, and the major networks and production studios need to be aware that this is a serious issue."
Disney, Fox, NBC, Universal and CBS are among the outstanding defendants.
In Los Angeles, I'm Renita Jablonski for Marketplace.