For years it’s been generally accepted that roles dry up for actresses over 40, and while that might still be true in movies, it appears to be less the case on the small screen. Sharon Stone, Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton are all getting their own TV shows for the first time, and other middle-age and older actresses have lately scored big roles.
And these shows aren’t just on the old broadcast networks, but on basic cable channels, pay-TV networks and even online streaming services such as Netflix.
It’s a sign that, despite big investments in BuzzFeed and other millennial-focused content creators, Hollywood is still interested in reaching older viewers, said Vivian Mayer, principal of Century City entertainment marketing and public relations firm Mayer & Associates.
“The landscape is changing as baby boomers acclimate to the digital environment by switching to streaming and on-demand services,” she said. “Making programming that satisfies that high-earning demographic makes complete economic sense.”
Of course, a handful of shows with older actresses are already on the air or online. There’s Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie,” which stars Jane Fonda, 77, and Lily Tomlin, 76. And Robin Wright, 49, stars alongside Kevin Spacey, 56, in acclaimed Netflix political drama “House of Cards.”
Joining those shows this week will be CBS sitcom “Life in Pieces.” The show, which was scheduled to debut Sept. 21 features two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest, 67, as the matriarch of a dysfunctional family. It will air in a coveted time slot: directly after TV’s most watched sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory.”
Next up is TNT’s “Agent X,” which will debut in November and stars Stone, 57. She’ll play the newly elected vice president of the United States who has a security crisis to deal with.
Sarandon, 68, will play a former first lady with her own political ambitions in “Graves,” a comedy set to debut next year on Epix, a premium cable network and streaming service backed by Viacom, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and MGM. And Keaton, 69, will star as an American nun at the Vatican who guides a fictional, conservative American pope, played by Jude Law, in HBO’s “The Young Pope,” which does not yet have an air date.
One big reason that networks and major cable channels have started putting out casting calls for established older actresses is the success of actor-driven shows on Netflix and other streaming services.
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