IMDB Turns 15 Years Old

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The Internet Movie Database marks 15 years of existence this year. Commentator John Ridley points out that the Web site has become a handy tool widely used by film buffs and casual moviegoers alike, not to mention for movie industry types. Ridley is a writer and director, and author of The Drift.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Whatever the format, commentator John Ridley says there's a place online where you can read all about the movies, and it's celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

JOHN RIDLEY:

As the phrase `go Google her up' morphs from being a vague obscenity to colloquialism, there's another Internet-related construction that's also gradually becoming part of the American lexicon: `Would you IMDB him for me?' There was a time when IMDB, or Internet Movie Database, was known mostly among Hollywood players and diehard cinephiles. But as it pops the champagne cork on 15 years of existence, IMDB is finally becoming a mainstream go-to site for even casual Web surfers.

The site has got listings for just about every movie and TV show ever released on any format from any source or nation. And it doesn't just include the obvious names of interest in a film's cast and crew, the directors and writers and big-budget stars, those who are commonly referred to in Hollywood as the above-the-line talent. The below-the-line talent, the dudes and chicks who do the normally thankless heavy lifting on a production, are listed also. So you want to know who was the gaffer on "Sid & Nancy" or the second unit director on "Sweet Smell of Success"? Just go IMDB them.

Granted, for some, this just adds up to a big game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon for the cyber world, but for those really savvy 20-something movie execs, IMDB has become a face-saver. More than one studio-to-talent agency packaging conference call has come to a quiet halt as the conversants go through a pantomime of trying to recall the name of that breaking actor who gave a terrific performance in that little-seen indie film from a year ago. And over the blower, light key strokes can be heard before one of the party miraculously professes to recall that it was X who was so darned good in that part.

Now IMDB isn't perfect. They fact-check, but on occasion, somebody who's nobody ends up with a listing. I personally had more than one production listed and a few--Surprise!--crew members that I didn't realize were on the payroll. Hey, here's a little tip for my friends in Tinseltown: If you're going to say you worked in a certain capacity on a production, make sure that position actually existed. Note to guy claiming to have directed the seventh episode of the short-lived TV series "Platinum": There were only six episodes.

But hey, it's Hollywood. If we're not overinflating our own status, then we're chatting up Larry King about some liberal cause of the week. And wouldn't you really rather have us lying to each other on the Internet, where you can keep an eye on us? So thank you very much, IMDB, for giving film fans 15 years of concise, comprehensive cinema info. And by the way, slight correction: You forgot to mention on your site I co-wrote "Titanic" and "Casablanca."

(Soundbite of movie music)

MONTAGNE: Commentator John Ridley is a writer and director in Hollywood, and he did, indeed, write the novel "The Drift."

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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