Hollywood overexposes young starlets, from Lindsay Lohan to Scarlett Johansson, and puts distinguished veterans on pedestals. Yet the industry has no idea how to handle an actress once she reaches her late thirties or forties. Lacking suitable offers for mainstream parts, these talented ladies either pour their fortunes into vanity projects (Salma Hayek in Frida), turn to lower-budget independent fare (Holly Hunter in Thirteen), or dabble in primetime television (The Shield lures Glenn Close, and Teri Hatcher is reborn as a Desperate housewife).

A recent trend finds older but still attractive actresses downheartedly treading water in the dating pool for the benefit of a far-fetched plot. Heather Locklear played a flighty single mom unlucky in love for Hilary Duff's The Perfect Man. Now Oscar-nominee Diane Lane is taking her turn in the barrel with improved results.

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