The New York Times reports that the Motion Picture Assn. of America is "a whisker away" from naming Chris Dodd as its chief lobbyist and that an announcement "could come as early as this week."

If so, it would end a yearlong search process focused on finding a star successor to Dan Glickman and to bring a new level of cachet to the MPAA in D.C.

Dodd, 66, who long had been rumored to be among those under consideration, was brought out to L.A. several weeks ago to meet studio chieftans. He served as senator from Connecticut from 1981 to 2011, having declined to run for another term.

His presidential bid in 2008 failed to ignite, but it did draw a substantial list of studio chiefs as contributors, as well as friends like Lorne Michaels and HBO's Richard Plepler, one of Dodd's former aides. Singer Paul Simon even campaigned for him in Iowa.

The search process itself has been marked by the embarassing scenario last summer when it looked like former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) would take the job. But as negotiations dragged out over months — primarily over whether Kerrey could still reside in New York — the studio chiefs finally called it off an moved on. Another prospect, former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) also was said to be in the running late last year, but that prospect fizzled as well.

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