Former pol likely to be named Valenti's successor

Dan Glickman, the former Kansas congressman who served as Agriculture secretary under former President Clinton, has emerged as the frontrunner to replace MPAA chief Jack Valenti.

Hollywood studio heads held a conference call Thursday to decide who will succeed Valenti and though a successor is not expected to be named until July, Glickman is likely to get unanimous approval.

Candidate, who is the father of Spyglass Entertainment partner Jonathan Glickman, is currently director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard U.’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He’s well known in Hollywood’s Democratic community, which played a leading role in campaigning on his behalf.

Former President Clinton, a big supporter of Glickman, served as a reference for Glickman. Clinton also lobbied for him within Hollywood’s Democratic circles and a number of other key Democrats in Hollywood are understood to have placed calls to curry favor for him with the studios. Several Republicans have been singing his praises as well.

Execs were not expected to come to any recommendation Thursday but are likely to talk again next week.

The only strike against Glickman seems to be his less-than-Hollywood style. Some Washington insiders are in fact concerned his demeanor is too bland for Hollywood.

“I couldn’t see him showing up in pinstripes, pink shirt and boots,” a prominent Senator remarked. “He doesn’t have much pizzazz.”

In terms of runners-up, Victoria Clarke, a former Pentagon spokesperson who’s now a communications and government affairs advisor to cable giant Comcast, seems to be the studios’ second choice, while the outsider Alan Bersin, San Diego schools chief, seems an unlikely alternative.

The task to replace Valenti has also given rise to discussion as whether it is still a one-person job.

Studios are now also mulling over the option of splitting the job into two parts, a CEO and a COO.

That decision rests on who is tapped to take the job, as it’s uncertain whether one person can effectively do the extensive globe trotting, speechifying and sophisticated shmoozing Valenti perfected for his more than $1 million a year salary.

In splitting the job, the MPAA would be taking a page from the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which last year tapped Mitch Bainwol, a savvy GOP political insider to replace Hilary Rosen at the top post, leaving piracy concerns to Cary Sherman, RIAA prexy.

If the studios tap Glickman, Hollywood runs the risk of rankling some Republicans in a election year where President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are running neck in neck. The GOP’s grip on the House and Senate is more secure, although some political analysts say that has slipped slightly in recent weeks.

Yet in the final analysis, with the release of “Fahrenheit 9/11″ the war in Iraq is becoming even more unpopular in Hollywood, so Clarke’s Rumsfeld bona fides may prove her undoing.

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