Too old for Hollywood? Try film directing

Tue Mar 2, 2010 5:16pm EST
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Want to be an actor, but you are beyond your 20s. Perhaps a career as a screenwriter, but you heard about age discrimination. Try directing, filmmakers are having all the luck these days -- at any age.

"Shutter Island" from 67-year-old director Martin Scorsese, reigned atop U.S. box offices for the second straight week this past weekend. It dethroned former champ "Valentine's Day" from 75-year-old Garry Marshall, and 76-year-old Roman Polanski's "Ghost Whisperer" is performing well in art houses.

Some quick math on directors nominated for this week's Oscars shows an average age of 48, lowered significantly by the youngish Jason Reitman ("Up In the Air") at age 32.

It seems that if a director makes shrewd casting choices, works in a proven genre, stakes out a sure-fire release date or simply stays in the game long enough, they, like fine wine, get better with age.

"If you're making works that are relevant to today's audience, there is no ageism" in Hollywood, said Paul Dergarabedian, who tracks ticket sales for

Ageism has become a dirty word in entertainment in recent years because it seems today's big stars are teens and young adults like Miley Cyrus, 17, Zac Efron, 22 and the "Twilight" actors. Brad Pitt, 46 and Tom Cruise, 47 are just old men.

Late last month, TV writers, talent agents, studios and broadcasters announced a settlement in an age discrimination suit that called for businesses to pay $70 million to writers who believed they were denied jobs and promotions because they were telling stories too old to reach today's audiences.

Yet in a town seemingly always focused on new talent or the next young visionary, filmmakers old enough to be grandfathers are the ones tapping into what today's moviegoers want to see.   Continued...

<p>Director Martin Scorsese arrives at the premiere of the movie "Shutter Island" in New York February 17, 2010. REUTERS/Natalie Behring</p>