Overhype

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
actress, damages, imdb, junie hoang, real age

Companies:
amazon, imdb



Actress Seeking $1 Million From IMDb For Publishing Her Real Age Was Pulling In Less Than $2000 A Year

from the what's-my-age-again? dept

Junie Hoang -- the part-time actress who sued IMDb for revealing her true age -- continues to fight her long-running court battle in the midst of a lost war. Hoang didn't like the fact that IMDb posted her real age, claiming that exposing this fact limited her future acting options. (A look at her past acting credits would seem to indicate this ship sailed long ago, back when she was still an ageless beauty. If anything, it shows her career has been remarkably consistent in terms of number of roles, both pre-exposure and post.)

The war is already lost. Junie Hoang tried to sue anonymously, in the hope of protecting her future from the menace of her actual birthdate, but was shot down by the presiding judge. Now, the facts are completely public, and all Hoang has left to fight for is damages she feels she's owed for IMDb's scuttling of her blossoming career. She puts this number at $1 million. But as Venkat Balasubramani notes in his coverage of the oral arguments, Hoang seems to be greatly overestimating her losses.
Harry Schneider, IMDb’s lawyer, walked Hoang through her tax returns. Without coming out and saying it, he highlighted that Hoang didn’t make very much money from acting, and that she deducted a fair amount of expenses for the amount of money she made. For example, her acting income in 2010 was between $1000 and $2000, but she deducted amounts for hair and makeup ($987), shoes ($318.86) and miscellaneous expenses ($523). The implication was that Hoang's acting was more of a hobby and less of a serious occupation.
Even granting Hoang the greater of the two figures ($2000) means the actress felt she had about 500 years of acting ahead of her, if only IMDb hadn't sabotaged her bright and extremely long future.

Then there's the apparent fact that Junie Hoang wanted the benefits of an IMDb pro account, but without having to follow the terms of use.
The most grueling part of the cross examination came when Schneider walked Hoang through the IMDb user agreement and its provisions where users promise to submit accurate information.

The attorney pointed Hoang's attention to various ways she had made some artifice -- submitting an incorrect birthdate initially (she entered in text indicating that she had a supporting birth certificate), entering information through accounts other than her own (despite prohibitions in the user agreement against sharing passwords and accounts), attempting to convince IMDb's customer service that someone else submitted the original date of birth information, and finally, sending over a fake passport image and a fake ID.

In the end, Hoang threw up her arms and admitted she did indeed submit inaccurate information, particularly when she was trying to get the birthdate deleted because she was at wit's end.
Here's the thing: the Internet is terrible at keeping secrets. If you want the widespread exposure that a dominant Hollywood-oriented website provides, you have to accept the fact that attempting to disguise your real age is never going to work. Hoang's argument centers on some shady investigative work done by IMDb customer service -- possibly involving the use of a background check service to gather more info on Hoang based on what IMDb knew and the actress' submitted credit card number.

As for the claims of lost future earnings, even Hoang's own witness -- her agent, Joe Kolkowitz -- was unable to provide verification that Hoang's earning power had decreased after IMDb's publication of her real age.
Kolkowitz testified that a variety of factors influence decisions on whether to hire an actor. Talent is a big part of the decision, he said. He also admitted that he only learned about Hoang’s date of birth through this lawsuit (and not through IMDb) and he was unable to definitively state that the disclosure of her age resulted in a reduced number of acting jobs. Finally, Kolkowitz also admitted that he couldn't say for certain that she had received fewer auditions, and added that he had “no knowledge regarding monetary loss from loss of roles.”
As Balasubramani sums up the day's activities, based on the arguments heard today, Hoang comes across less as a victim of unwanted disclosure than simply a "disgruntled customer" -- albeit one willing to pursue this Quixotic legal battle until all options have been expended.

While there does appear to be a hint of ageism in Hollywood, it's pretty tough to pin down how much each passing birthday costs an actress. And that seemingly apparent desire for young women only is far from a foregone conclusion. Even if IMDb's publication of Hoang's true age did cost her some future roles, it would appear from her resume and yearly earnings that it didn't cost her much -- at least nowhere near the $1 million she continues to seek.

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  • identicon
    Trevor, 10 Feb 2015 @ 1:41pm

    This reminds me of the classic movie line:

    Ezal: [i]Aw, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. God. Oh, I'm hurt. Oh, my neck, my back, my neck and my back. Oh, I want $150,000, but we can settle out of court right now for twenty bucks.[/i]

    -Quote from [i]IMDB.com[/i]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 1:53pm

    And now that she's proven to be a filer of frivolous lawsuits against other parties asking for ridiculous sums of money, I'm sure their will be tons of people lining up to hire her regardless of how old they believe her to be. That couldn't possibly damage her career now could it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 1:53pm

    she should be sued for deception with lying about her age which she lied about in order to gain employment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    peter, 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:07pm

    violating a user agreement

    Isnt the some 'hacking' law against that? The gubberment must investigate!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Erik Grant, 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:09pm

    I would say anybody with basic math skills can figure out her age. Her birthday is '71, and her first credit on IMDB is '92 and going to present day. That's 23 years of acting.

    Did she expect people to believe she was tapdancing out of the womb and onto a movie set?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mermaldad (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:10pm

    Quite a Longshot

    On top of the problems with her suit already mentioned, there's the question of whether publishing her real age violates her privacy or breaches any contract. I'd say her chances of any money are pretty slim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      tsunku, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:15pm

      Re: Quite a Longshot

      and finally, sending over a fake passport image and a fake ID.

      why haven't felony charges of document tampering been drawn up against her? anyone else that attempted such a thing and it was mentioned in court proceedings would probably be met by federal marshals in the hallway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:10pm

    For those too lazy to check the links, she turns 44 this year. For a bit of a comparison, Angelina Jolie turns 40 this year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      Angelina is turning 40? Well, her career is over, then.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Which career? It seems to me she has a number of them on the go.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:07pm

        Re: Re:

        "Angelina is turning 40? Well, her career is over, then."

        Do you think it's a coincidence that she recently announced she would be quitting acting and concentrating on directing. Plus the fact she's described that she has further surgery to go through, IYKWIM.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      I'm sure lots of us could come up with lots of actresses who got steady work through their 40s.

      One of my personal favorite not-a-big-star actresses is Kim Dickens, who's 49 or 50 now, and has worked steadily for the last decade. She might not have had anything quite as good as her role in "Deadwood" (as Joanie Stubbs) when she was younger, but between new performances and residuals, I suspect she's making an OK living at acting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:34pm

    Harry Schneider, IMDb’s lawyer, walked Hoang through her tax returns. Without coming out and saying it, he highlighted that Hoang didn’t make very much money from acting, and that she deducted a fair amount of expenses for the amount of money she made. For example, her acting income in 2010 was between $1000 and $2000, but she deducted amounts for hair and makeup ($987), shoes ($318.86) and miscellaneous expenses ($523). The implication was that Hoang's acting was more of a hobby and less of a serious occupation.


    --

    And that is the death of her damages claim right there

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ed Minchau, 11 Feb 2015 @ 12:37pm

      Re:

      Another look at her IMDB page reveals that she had 16 acting roles in 2006. How is it possible she only made $2000 in that year? Volunteer actress?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re:

        Most actors don't make a living wage. Here's some BLS stats from 2011 (quote from here):

        Actors averaged a mean $33.82 per hour in 2011, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid 10 percent made $8.79 hourly, and the highest-paid 10 percent earned over $90 hourly. Most worked in the motion picture and video industries to make a mean hourly $43.33. However, independent actors made the highest average pay at $45.39 per hour. Other typical employers and average salaries were performing arts companies, which offered $21.15 per hour, television broadcasting with $24.84 hourly and radio broadcasting with $24.83 per hour.


        $33.82 sounds like reasonable pay, but that's the hourly rate. Almost no actors work full time, and almost all actors will take unpaid roles in order to increase their overall exposure. If we assume that Hoang is in the bottom 10% at $8/hr, it's not too hard to see how she might only bring in a couple grand per year.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 2:43pm

    What year?

    According to the press releases on IMDB, this case was lost nearly a year ago. Did she sue again, for the same reason and the same damages?

    Doesn't matter. The only year anyone will remember about Junie Hoang now is the year she was born - 1971. Oh, that, and that you'd be crazy to hire the litigious bint.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:43pm

    Stupid people using stupid laws

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:44pm

    Correction

    Stupid people using stupid made up laws

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 3:45pm

    C'mon people. She is being deprived of her right to The American Dream (tm). That has to be worth something... doesn't it? What is a measly million bucks when the alternative is a miserable lifetime contemplating dashed dreams? I'ts Un-American to mock, everyone deserves to be rich.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:03pm

    I dont like the way she's gone about, but i dont think its unreasonable for imdb to put "withheld by request" feature, requested by the actual person in question...........they shouldnt be able to falsify, and those who CHOOSE the public attention should go into it knowing what their getting involved in......ideally, they dont, and strive for things more important, like you know having a concience, some empathy, generally caring enough beyond their shallow-ness to be famous or greedy for as little effort.........im sure their are good ones though

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

      but i dont think its unreasonable for imdb to put "withheld by request" feature, requested by the actual person in question


      It wouldn't be unreasonable for them to do this, but it's also not unreasonable for them to publish ages, even without permission.

      A person's age is a public record, because their birth certificate is a public record, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re:

        "A person's age is a public record"

        This is a nut of the issue. Nobody's birth date is a secret, no matter how much some people wish it were.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      "I dont like the way she's gone about, but i dont think its unreasonable for imdb to put "withheld by request" feature, "



      Date of birth is a verifiable fact. Any number of people (parents but also others) may actually know her DOB. So if they (say her mother or a family friend) put her DOB on a website and IMDB picked it up there, or a relative posted it, you suggest she sues her mother, relative or friend?

      Dates of birth, marriage, death are facts available to the public and to data brokers (ie it's for sale). I might like to keep my age a secret but I know I can't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:07pm

    I guess not everyone can age gracefully

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:18pm

    She's not wrong about what she essentially saying/implying about hollywood, knowingly or not, but i have no sympathy for someone who claims that she's doing this for other actors while also asking for money......or the worse thing still, advertising, what seems obliviously to her fans should she have any, that lieing is ok ........we already have an abundance of amoral role models

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:26pm

    That's it...

    ...I'm changing my birth year from 19-fifty-something to 2000.

    Damn, I feel so much better now.

    Spry...almost.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JBDragon (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 4:33pm

    I wish I was her age!!!! She's so worried abut her age, but a quick look in a few of her pictures, she doesn't mind having Ron Jeremy's arm around her in a picture!!! Who doesn't know who he is? Isn't that worse for your image then your young age? Now people think of you as a PORN Star now!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      What I hear is that Ron Jeremy is "hip" in Hollywood circles. Being photographed with him can only help you, not hurt you. Tons of a-listers go out of their way for such photos.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James T, 10 Feb 2015 @ 7:30pm

    CFAA?

    I'm not entirely sure why this isn't being referred out for CFAA charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 10:37pm

    While there does appear to be a hint of ageism in Hollywood

    See Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 10 Feb 2015 @ 10:56pm

    It's true that she may no longer land a role as a sexy college coed, but just about everything I watch has actors her age and older. If you are any good you will still get work. Shaving a couple years off your age is not going to make any difference. If she looks right for a part and does well in the screening that is all that matters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2015 @ 12:28am

    How do we know she is not made of Hela cells :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    s7, 11 Feb 2015 @ 1:13am

    Google Search

    I love that when you do a Google search for her name it brings up a sidebar with images of her, and immediately below that....

    Junie Hoang
    Actress
    Hoang v. Amazon.com, Inc. et al. is a lawsuit brought by actress Junie Hoang in October 2011 against IMDb.com and its parent company Amazon.com for revealing her true date of birth, which she said opened her up to age discrimination. Wikipedia
    Born: July 16, 1971 (age 43), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


    Then, and only then, covers of B-movies she's been in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jigsy, 11 Feb 2015 @ 6:16am

    I'm guessing her reality check bounced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 7:56am

    I just looked at her IMDB page and she is a fairly attractive woman. I do wonder how recent most of those photos are. This lawsuit has damaged any future career she may have had far more than her true age being known. Now when she auditions the casting crew are going to be thinking "hey, isn't this the crazy bitch that sued IMDB for a million dollars?"

    I tried an internet dating site and I realized when I met this one woman that the photos she sent me had to have been at least 10 years ago. Could she face CFAA charges now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 8:14am

    *wipes a tear form his eye*

    The true sadness in all of this is because she is to damn old now, her role as "Ghetto Girl Three" will not turn into a lucrative stand alone movie series.

    DAMN YOU IMDB!

    *resumes laughing his ass off*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 11 Feb 2015 @ 9:23am

    Agism

    I work in the software industry, which is probably second only to Hollywood in terms of ageism (although I think it might be worse). Agism is a real and serious problem that I am sympathetic to.

    However, just because you work in an industry that has an agism problem doesn't mean that anyone else has to restrict what they say because of that. Is it terrible that my own age limits my opportunities in the field? Yes. Would it be OK for me try to sue anyone for correctly reporting my age? Absolutely not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Foreign Contributor, 12 Feb 2015 @ 6:43pm

    ...

    IMDb was the first website to correct autralian actress Rebel Wilson's birth date (the proof is still online, a few local paper's reports). Now Wikipedia has her birthdate and blah blah blah.
    If the actress' date of birth was inaccurate, must be corrected. If there's no birthdate, leave it alone.

    I don't get this Hoang woman, anyways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Carmichael, 13 Feb 2015 @ 11:35am

    More Misinformation

    In search of the most salacious gossip angle, the media has consistently and deliberately misrepresented what this lawsuit was about: internet privacy and Age Discrimination. On principle, Hoang gave up her anonymity, and due to her attorney's illnesses and death, had to go to trial unable to prove damages because he did nothing to build that part of her case. Inaccurate articles like this one keep trying to make her out as greedy, but somehow FAIL to mention that Hoang still went to trial though the most she could have won was probably her $99 subscription back. No $1M payday. After years of expensive litigation, she spent hundreds of thousands, if not a million dollars in legal fees, but stood to gain almost NOTHING but to help level the playing field for thousands of other actors whose birthdates harm their chances of working. This article also mentions a "hint" of Ageism in Hollywood, apparently ignorant that TV writers won a $70 MILLION settlement for exactly that -- the largest settlement in the history of Age Discrimination litigation. Ageism runs RAMPANT through Hollywood. And notice that all references to actresses working after 40 are character actresses -- not ingenues. When the world knows an actress whose looks put her in the ingenue category is 40 or older, forget it. They'll assume she no longer looks like her pictures and won't audition her. And her agent? He has no reason to go to her IMDB profile -- he already has head shot and resume to send out. He had no reason to go to her IMDB profile, but everyone he sent her info to DID. And "unable to prove she lost jobs due to age"? Of course! when someone illegally discriminates against a prospective employee due to age, do they tell you? No. No one will EVER admit that. The obvious negative slant of this article, dripping with sarcasm and inaccuracies about Hoang and the facts, smacks of a plant by IMDB, or a pseudo-journalist trying to curry favor with Amazon, IMDB's parent company. This is Yellow Journalism at its worst.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      monochromespaghetti (profile), 16 Feb 2015 @ 11:10am

      Re: More Misinformation

      I strongly disagree with that. She clearly couldn't prove damages anyway because it was shown her income didn't substantially decrease.

      You say no $1m payday as though she was just suing to get her subscription fee back. She is suing for $1m and you are for some reason equating the frivolousness of the lawsuit with it being for some noble cause.

      If there is age discrimination in Hollywood then why is she suing IMDb for publishing information they have every right to release? Surely she should be suing the companies with discriminatory auditioning practices.

      As for her agent having no reason to look at her IMDb profile - that's total hogwash. If prospective employers will be looking at it then it's the agent's job to look at the profile and ensure it portrays their client well whilst still being accurate.

      It's pretty clear here that this is not some grand statement about age discrimination and is really just an absurd money grab.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Carmichael, 20 Feb 2015 @ 2:42pm

    Monochromespaghetti

    Why would both SAG/AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America, with over 130,000 members combined, support a "frivolous" lawsuit? Have you read their Amici Brief? Why did over 5000 actors sign a petition to have IMDB remove birthdates? Because this is an incredibly important issue to EVERYONE in Hollywood, and to anyone else who values their Constitutionally-protected privacy.

    Per ADEA, it's ILLEGAL for a prospective employer to ask your age, but IMDB posts it so employers can, and do, discriminate. Does IMDB have a "right" to do an end-run around employment law and facilitate Age Discrimination? What does an actor's age have to do with their credits, experience, or acting ability? Nothing. In a town obsessed with youth, birthdates can only harm them.

    Homeownership is public information. Do I have the "right" to research and publish the home addresses of criminal prosecutors, and when they are murdered by the relatives of criminals they convict, hide behind the First Amendment? Clearly you haven't thought about the implications of corporations publishing private citizens' information, for profit, when it can harm them. Not all speech is "free." And -- Hoang's birthdate was NOT public, anywhere, before IMDB made it so.

    IMDB invaded Hoang's contractually private credit card information to get her real name, then hired Private Eye.com to illegally hack her birthdate from another source, in violation of their own user agreement. If this is their "right," every web vendor can chuck the privacy clause, then misuse and publish your private data. No one, IMDB included, has the right to use data you give them under the proviso of privacy, or to illegally obtain other personal information and publish it. Period.

    This is a landmark lawsuit, about internet privacy and Ageism, from which everyone who engages the services of online vendors or is subjected to Ageism stands to benefit. If you knew the facts of the case, you'd know Hoang went to trial though she would be unable to recoup even a fraction of her legal fees. But hacks like you keep trying to say this is "about the money," ignoring the facts which loudly speak otherwise, and that all of Hollywood is behind her.

    IMDB published her birthdate 8 years ago, when she looked like she was in her early to mid-20s, a prime age for ingenues. She didn't need to prove her income went DOWN; it never went UP because she was suddenly seen as "too old" for the roles she was suited for. But you would know this if you had heard her lawyer make this case at the Oral Arguments, which are still up on the 9th Circuit's YouTube channel.

    You are either completely uninformed of the facts of the lawsuit but want to snark anyway, or a shill for IMDB. Or, possibly, the writer of this article trying to defend a mean-spirited, badly-written, dishonest hack job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    actress, 28 Mar 2015 @ 8:34am

    beauty

    The most fascinating &charming celebrities of the world may have been a glance of your best sight. They can undoubtedly be ranked as the paragon of ever beauty .Have a glance of the ever beauty .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kerala, 14 Jul 2015 @ 5:11am

    Kerela Online

    They can undoubtedly be ranked as the paragon of ever beauty .Have a glance of the ever beauty .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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