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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Hollywood's Internet Avenger?


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By Cynthia L. Webb Staff Writer
Friday, July 2, 2004; 9:55 AM

And the Oscar goes to ... Dan Glickman.

The former Democratic congressman and Clinton administration Cabinet member is the new top lobbyist at Hollywood's primary trade group. He replaces outgoing Motion Picture Association of America veteran Jack Valenti to take the helm of a group facing a serious threat to its members' bottom lines -- Internet piracy.

Reuters zeroed in on Glickman's top priority: "As the public face of the movie industry, Glickman, 59, will seek to curb the unchecked Internet file swapping that threatens to cut into movie sales. Lawsuits against individuals who share movies online are not out of the question, he said. 'I think there are a lot of strategies to deal with piracy,' he said. 'Education is one of them, enforcement, litigation is another strategy. I don't think you can just go with one strategy.'" The Los Angeles Daily News stressed the same point in its coverage: "With the illegal distribution of copyrighted material continuing to sap an estimated annual $3.5 billion from the movie industry, both Glickman and Valenti said the organization's top priority will remain finding ways to curb piracy."
Reuters: Glickman Picked To Click As Top Movie Lobbyist
The Los Angeles Daily News: New Star Rises At MPAA
MPAA Statement on Glickman's Hiring (PDF)

So, wondering how Glickman's experience as a former agriculture secretary relates to Hollywood? The Hollywood Reporter reported that "Glickman admitted to a 'steep learning curve' when it comes to the arcana of copyright law -- a big battle ground as the industry attempts to stem copyright piracy and make the Internet a profitable distribution system. But he said his experience dealing with trade issues, and especially with agricultural trade with China would help as the industry tries to open up markets around the world."
The Hollywood Reporter via Reuters: Glickman Relishes Role As Hollywood Mouthpiece

Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard, according to The New York Times, "said that the industry had not adequately addressed technological solutions for stopping movie piracy. 'The fight right now is not about the technology existing,' he said. 'It's who's going to own the technology, and who will sell it. If the guy at the M.P.A.A. can help sort that out, that's going to be the big plus. Let's face it -- Valenti -- technology's not his expertise.'"
The New York Times: New Studio Chief Takes Over (Registration required)

Dan, You're Not in Kansas Anymore

According to The Los Angeles Times, "Valenti said studio chiefs were impressed by Glickman's House tenure, including his service on the Judiciary Committee -- which deals with many issues of importance to Hollywood -- and the former Agriculture secretary's experience in resolving international disputes. A Democrat, Glickman will be lobbying an administration and Congress controlled by Republicans. He played down party affiliation as a potential problem, saying he had never been regarded as overly partisan."

But the L.A. Times also stressed that Glickman has big shoes to fill. "Valenti, in his 38 years as president and chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, became synonymous with the movie industry. In 1965, when Valenti went Hollywood, he was already one of the most inside of Washington insiders as one of President Johnson's closest aides. Glickman, 59, also was once in the executive branch. But as President Clinton's second Agriculture secretary, he was never in the administration's inner circle. Before that, he had spent 18 years in Congress representing a Kansas district that was part Wichita and part farmland," the paper said. "The former congressman, whose son is a movie producer, said Thursday that he faced a 'steep learning curve' in mastering the ins and outs of the issues paramount to the movie industry, such as piracy and increasing congressional concern about sex and violence in the movies. He said Valenti would be a 'hard act to follow.'"
The Los Angeles Times: New Chief of MPAA Has Big Role To Fill (Registration required)

The Hollywood Reporter also implied Glickman faces a tough road, since Valenti ruled MPAA for so long: "Glickman admitted that following Valenti will be one of his most difficult challenges. Valenti's ability to work the halls of power and to speak effectively are legendary. Still, Glickman is comfortable as a public speaker, and while he may not possess Valenti's resonant voice and incredible vocabulary, he's no shrinking violet. During Thursday's press conference, when asked his favorite movie, he replied: 'Any movie my son produces.' He then named what seemed like 20 films produced by his son, Jonathan Glickman, a partner in Spyglass Entertainment, which produced 'The Sixth Sense.' ... The family ties to the industry are likely to come in handy for the new leader of the MPAA as he takes on a job where the companies often war with the creative talent as much as each other, and all concerned fight over the best way to protect their products from piracy. Glickman also will have to fend off an increasingly energized community that thinks nothing of downloading copyrighted material without paying for it, and a Congress that is increasingly skeptical of the copyright industries' demands."

Meanwhile, another article by The Los Angeles Times said the MPAA Glickman will lead is far from the same organization Valenti took over nearly four decades ago. "Unlike the MPAA of old, which was made up of Hollywood film factories that were run by autocratic moguls, the organization Glickman inherits consists of media conglomerates engaged in divergent businesses that include movies, television, the Internet, theme parks and publishing. Often, these companies have conflicting interests and agendas in Washington. The MPAA's seven member companies also face growing technological and economic hurdles -- primarily the proliferation of bootleg movies that can be transmitted worldwide over the Internet and soaring production costs that have driven filmmaking to foreign turf."
The Los Angeles Times: Film Industry Gets New Top Lobbyist (Registration required)

Hollywood Sticks With Its Left

Despite Glickman's party affiliation with the Democrats (and close ties to Clinton, whom The Los Angeles Times noted put a call in to help Glickman get the job), the new MPAA chief is already trying to play mediator. "I have friends on both sides of Congress," Glickman said, according to USA Today. "Protecting and promoting the film industry at home and around the world is not a partisan job." And from The Washington Post article: "Although he is a Democrat, Glickman promised to work closely with Republicans as well as members of his own party. 'You'd be a fool to think this job is partisan,' Glickman said. Valenti noted that the association's board picked Glickman partly because he has 'a wealth of friends on both sides of the aisle.'"
USA Today: Glickman Takes Director's Chair At Film Lobbying Group
The Washington Post: Glickman Succeeds Valenti At MPAA (Registration required)

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