Frivolous lawsuits abound, aided by the court system, lawyers, and this time by the unions. And they dilute the serious issues that should be getting our attention. (Hint, like pro se actors vs. Breakdown Services Ltd., SAG/Aftra?)

Nikke Finke broke this news to us on March 19:

Last night a federal judge in Seattle ruled that a lawsuit brought by an actress who accused the online film and TV database for posting her birthdate in her bio without her permission will go to trial. U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman denied summary judgment from IMDb on Junie Hoang’s breach of contract claim, meaning the case will go forward to an April 8 trial date. The core claim makes the central issue of the case whether the site enables age discrimination in the entertainment biz with its policy of posting ages on individuals’ web pages.

In the original lawsuit filed in October 2011, Huang claimed she attempted to increase her exposure on the website in 2008 by subscribing via credit card to IMDb Pro. She changed her name and didn’t reveal her age when providing information for her profile. Soon after joining, her age appeared on the site, revealing info she claims harms her chances of landing film roles. Huang claimed the site performed record searches using her credit card information to obtain her age and did not remove the information when she requested it. Amazon called the suit “frivolous.” But then-separate unions SAG and AFTRA backed Huang’s action saying that when actual ages are posted “they become known to casting personnel, the 10+ year age range that many [actors] can portray suddenly shrinks and so do their opportunities to work”.

As a start, IMDb doesn’t offer webpages for subscribers to fill. It gives information deemed to be reliable, that’s all. And it gives it to everybody, producers, performers and craft professionals, either for free or a for a small fee at the IMDb Pro website.

This actress spoofed her name, and didn’t wish to reveal her age when providing her information. If she’d been selected for a Wikipedia “biography of living people” profile, you can bet they’d have her nailed down with accuracy, including her birth name and age. I have this to say, as if there were no more important things to think about.

Junie, there IS no privacy any more. Get used to it. When all’s said and done, the truth won’t go away, and lies will. Your age, your health, the nature of your sickness, your height, your weight, the natural color of your hair, your sexuality, your use of body enhancements, your clothes, your underwear, your income, your debts, your criminal history, your driving history, your court records, your credit history, your FICO score, your marriages, your lovers, your citizenship, your parents, your ancestors, your acting credits, your car, your home, your children, and why you died. Nobody’s kidding anyone any more. Consider, the more we’re different, the more we’re the same. Set me up or bail me out is today’s cry. Only one thing matters in the end. SPELL MY NAME RIGHT.

Then I decided to have a little fun.

I’ve been an IMDb Pro subscriber for years, where I’m John Clark (II), and have my own credits, contacts, pictures and clips displayed. They’re great people, and perform a useful service. They list just about everything knowable about a person, an agent, a manager, and a production company, with their phone numbers and addresses. Also film and tv reviews, and my favorites are from users, especially under the “hated it” category, (always, to me, more interesting.) You can indeed send in corrections, and they are always verified by them. So I sent this to IMDb:

Some people think I’m 80, over the hill, weigh 300 lbs and can barely see, let alone walk. Actually, I am 45, Greek, of royal birth, and an Olympic athlete with a black belt in Judo. I can speak 14 languages, and make love multiple times without a break if the scene calls for it. I have worked 12 times for Spielberg (I’m his favorite), mostly doing my own stunts. I need work. Here’s my number, in case CAA doesn’t return the call.

IMDb ignored me and hasn’t made this correction! H-e-e-l-p! Should I sue?

Nikke Finke has a free site which I rather like, it’s where you go for the latest breaking news on the Hollywood front. It’s called DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD.

Today, she informed her readers that the managers were at it again, pleading their cause before a federal judge, but were thrown out. Here, she can speak for herself:

Personal managers took it on the chin Tuesday in U.S. District Court when Judge Dean Pregerson wouldn’t touch California’s Talent Agencies Act. Instead the judge threw out an outrageously broad lawsuit filed by the National Conference of Personal Managers seeking to overturn the state’s ban on managers “procuring” employment. That provision has effectively allowed clients  to void their management contracts and not pay commissions even if the managers obtained a job for them. (Managers are unlicensed whereas talent agents must be licensed by the state to procure employment.) Pregerson rejected the managers’ claim that California has created “involuntary servitude” for them. “Not being compensated for work performed does not inevitably make that work involuntary servitude,” the judge ruled. “Plaintiff’s members have choices.” He also rejected claims that the Talent Agencies Act violated the Commerce Clause, the Contracts Clause and the First Amendment.

Well, that got my pulse going and my blood-pressure pointing north. A lot of managers made comments outlining ideas for future strategy, and I just HAD to chime in with my voice and MY comment:

John Clark says:

ACTOR HERE! Spoiler alert – rant ahead – listen up.
 We actors are entrepreneurs by instinct and training and dreaming. When we’re not working, we work out, honing our craft, and wait for the phone to ring. And wait and wait and wait. 
So, in frustration, we pick up the phone and call a casting director about a project we heard about, maybe from a writer friend, and a part we think we’re right for. She/he won’t take the call. We call the packager.  Same thing.
 We call Breakdown Services to ask for a reasonably priced subscription to their researched data-base of parts, characters, and jobs available day by day. They won’t sell to us.
 We’re SHUT OUT of OUR industry!

Remove all of us actors? What will be left is NOTHING…NOTHING…NOTHING.

Remove all of these agents and managers, then what’s left? Why, the world of entertainment and fantasy fulfillment for paying audiences happily humming away.

I’m eighty years old. I’ve been a part of our industry since I was a famous child star in England before the end of World War 2, and quite famous since (for all the wrong reasons.) I won’t be around much longer.
 And I say F**K Y*U to agents and managers for preventing me from making direct contact with my goals. [I used the actual words, which Nikke allows and my webmaster doesn’t.]

I pass this advice to the next generation of actors. “Get in touch with your own self, and make sure there are no degrees of separation between you, your soul, your spirit, your sense of creativity, your business sense, and any roadblocks in and to your ability to GET WORK!

Thank you judge, thank you SAG/AFTRA/EQUITY, and thank you Government for controlling the agencies by licensing them, and rejecting the “managers” of actors’ lives. If these “personal managers” really want to “represent” their clients, then they should marry them, and go all the way.
 And that is my rant for the day.”

There was an immediate response.

WTF are you talking about? Because CD’s won’t take your calls, Managers shouldn’t be paid for the work they do for you insecure, ranting, miserable actors?

Comment by Huh? — Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 2:22pm PST 

To which I said

If you had half of a brain, you’d have made sure that the client’s checks, contractually, were made payable to you, subtract your commission, and then net it off to the client. But then you’d be a fiduciary, subject to the laws of fraud, and actors are smart enough to see that, and won’t let you do it. Which makes YOU an insecure, ranting miserable ex-hairdresser manager. Boo hoo.

  • Comment by John Clark — Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 5:33pm PST

(Oh Lord, maybe I should not have said that. Now I’ll NEVER get a manager to represent me, nor an agent for that matter! Or maybe even a haircut .)