Chris Dodd American Spirit Award
Ben Horton/WireImage

At a Beverly Hills Hotel ceremony this week, MPAA chairman Chris Dodd noted that he’s been on the job just 24 months, and he’s already getting an award.

Kudos are a familiar Hollywood ritual, but in this case was being recognized by the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors with the American Spirit Award, traditionally given to a mix of politicians and content creators.

With Mike Medavoy, Barry Meyer and Tom Rothman in the audience, Dodd thanked them for being among those who convinced him to take the MPAA job in March, 2011 (and took “a chance on a retiring senator”), but for also supporting him during his 35-year career in the House and the Senate. “I probably should ave started out by saying thank you to all of you, because I suspect most of you wrote checks to support my reelection in nine races,” Dodd quipped.

Dodd’s speech focused on the power of show biz to have an influence on the culture, not just in the U.S. but in international markets. It’s an ever-greater issue, as studios seek to greater entry into markets like China yet can do so only by making edits to their movies to overcome government censors.

Dodd said “it is one thing to talk about it in the Constitution, but to see what freedom of expression means where even those programs that might shock us, or even offend us, but are absolutely critical to maintain that fundamental right we have as citizens that no other people enjoy as fully as we do.”

Also honored were former studio chief Frank Price and Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television.

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