Contenders poke fun at themselves at Rosen farewell

The rumors swirling around the search for replacements for the top Washington reps at both major Hollywood trade assns. has gotten downright comical.

At least that’s how Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Mary Bono (R-Calif.) are treating it.

Both are mentioned as possible contenders to replace Hilary Rosen, the outgoing chairman of the Recording Industry Assn. of America. And Tauzin’s name keeps surfacing as a possible successor to Jack Valenti, the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s prexy, who has been in the role for almost four decades.

The Congressional pair performed a rap, poking fun at themselves in a video shown at a goodbye fete June 24 for Rosen on Capitol Hill.

Here was the gist:

Who wants the job of Hilary Rosen?

How ’bout the dream team of Bono and Tauzin?

We heard the rumors goin’ round town.

That Mary and Billy could take Kazaa down.

We know your problems inside and out.

Burnin’ CDs. Oooh. A very scary thought.

Piracy bad. Piracy bad. Piracy bad.”

All kidding aside, last week TV regs regent Tauzin tried everything he could to squash rumors about a possible departure. In a letter to colleagues on the House Commerce panel, Tauzin promised to run for re-election.

“I worked very hard to get to the top of this mountain and I am going to enjoy the view for the next 3 and a half years with a gavel in hand and a mission in mind,” he wrote, referring to the time left before the term limits on his chairmanship come due at the end of 2006.

Valenti will meet with top reps from the major motion picture studios Monday to discuss possible successors for his job.

Tauzin, Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke, Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) and “Law & Order” star and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) are all names in the mix at this early stage of the game.

With the possible exception of Thompson, most of the contenders would have to overcome some hurdles to assume the MPAA title right away, and the bionic Valenti will no doubt be happy to stay on as long as necessary.

For Tauzin, engaging in any talks about the post will only fuel colleagues’ jockeying for the coveted Commerce committee gavel.

Dreier has a similar problem. He chairs the House Rules Committee, which controls which bills hit the floor and guards against Democrat riders. The term limit on his chairmanship is up at the end of next year, but he can always get a waiver from Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

In a brief interview, Dreier said it’s “unseemly” to discuss any private sector opportunities.

Breaux, a conservative Democrat who routinely brokers deals across the aisle, is trying to decide whether or not to leave Congress. He won’t go if a Republican looks as though he can win his seat.

When asked about his interest in the top spot at the MPAA, Breaux had nothing but praise for Valenti and demurred about any interest in the position.

Breaux acknowledged, however, that he is considering retirement and will decide what to do after a pending Louisiana governor’s race this fall. (If a Democrat wins, the governor could appoint another Democrat to succeed Breaux in the Senate.)

“I’ve been in Congress over 30 years,” he said early last week. “I have to make a decision about what I want to do — I want to have a second career.”

Clarke, who previously served as a senior staffer at the National Cable Television Assn. , is expected to become the top flack for President Bush’s re-election campaign.

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