Biz sizes up exec for top job at MPAA

Even after returning to Hollywood for a star role on “Law & Order,” former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) just can’t stay away from the political game.

Thompson, who still maintains ties in D.C., was back walking the marble halls of the Capitol late last week, making the rounds and chatting up old colleagues.

“Yeah, I used to be somebody when I was up here,” he quipped to one well-wisher.

Those high-level friendships would sure come in handy if some of his fans in Hollywood get their way and recruit Thompson to succeed exiting MPAA topper Jack Valenti.

To many in the pic biz, Thompson seems straight out of central casting, his background a perfect mix of hardball politics and showbiz chic.

Joe Pantoliano, the former “Sopranos” star who now serves as a chief exec of the Creative Coalition, got to know Thompson when they starred in the 1994 film “Baby’s Day Out.”

“I just think he’s a bright, charming, caring individual,” Pantoliano told Capitol Hill pub Roll Call recently. “I think Fred Thompson is the obvious guy — he’s a former Senator and he’s been in the business. I’ll stick my neck out a bit for him.”

But Thompson was mum when asked directly about his interest in the post and if he had interviewed with Spencer Stuart, the headhunting firm hired by the MPAA to find a new boss.

“I don’t have anything to say about it,” Thompson tells Variety. “Maybe I will later on.”

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