Dan Glickman, a former agriculture secretary and Democratic congressman from Kansas, was cast today in a difficult but glamorous new role as the movie industry's top lobbyist in Washington, taking the place of Jack Valenti, who is retiring as president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
"It's a great honor to succeed -- never replace -- Jack Valenti," Glickman, 59, said of the legendary movie lobbyist, who has led the movie association for 38 years.
Valenti, 82, a former aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, is the dean of Washington trade association heads. He is best known for devising the industry's voluntary parental-guidance rating system, narrowly heading off federal intervention.
"It's been a long ride, it's been a great ride," Valenti said at an event introducing Glickman at Washington's Hay-Adams hotel. "But everything comes to an end."
The new head of the movie association, who will take over for Valenti in September, faces a number of complex legislative and regulatory issues -- from questions about protecting intellectual property rights in an increasingly borderless, digital world to constant criticism of on-screen violence from both Republican and Democratic politicians.
The association courted prominent lawmakers from both parties, including Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), to find a successor to Valenti. Victoria Clarke, the former Pentagon spokeswoman who also was an aide in former president George H.W. Bush's 1992 campaign, was another top candidate for the position, according to a report last week in the Los Angeles Times.
Glickman's salary was not disclosed today, although Valenti confirmed that his pay would be in the seven-figure range.
Glickman, who ran the Agriculture Department from March 1995 until the end of President Bill Clinton's second term, acknowledged that he has little experience with entertainment issues.
"I'm going to have a steep learning curve," he said.
"I love the movies," he added. "I will fight very hard for the industry in terms of fighting against piracy."
With both houses of Congress in Republican hands, the former Democratic lawmaker also said he would make a point of reaching out. "This is not a partisan job," he said.
Glickman is a senior adviser at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, one of Washington's biggest lobbying law firms. He also has been director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics since August 2002. He represented Kansas's 4th Congressional District for 18 years, serving on the agriculture, judiciary and intelligence committees, before he was ousted from his seat in the 1994 elections, when the GOP took control of Congress. Clinton appointed him agriculture secretary the following year.
In 2002, Glickman decided against challenging Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), but he remained politically active as a lobbyist, saying in a March 2003 Washington Post article that his experience and connections had proven attractive to many clients. "There's no question I know a lot of people," Glickman said. "If somebody says, 'What's this guy like on the Hill,' I can tell about my experience with him."
Glickman has a personal connection to the entertainment industry. His son, Jonathan, is a movie producer and president of Spyglass Entertainment, a self-financed production company based at The Walt Disney Studios. The younger Glickman has produced such movies as "Inspector Gadget," "Rush Hour" and its sequel "Rush Hour II."
The movie association's membership includes the Walt Disney Company's Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.; Paramount Pictures Corp.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.; Universal City Studios LLLP and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.