As part of his effort to respond to the political backlash against Hollywood now under way in Washington, Motion Picture Assn. of America president Jack Valenti huddled with top studio execs Monday in Beverly Hills.
Valenti kept a tight lid on what transpired at the meeting, saying afterward that it was “constructive” and “informative,” but revealing no details of the discussion.
Monday’s meeting with execs representing the seven major studios that comprise the MPAA’s membership was the fourth such encounter he has had in the last month, and he expects to have three more over the next few weeks. Valenti’s aim is to come up with a strategy to stave off efforts by Congress to hold the entertainment industry accountable for schoolyard violence.
Valenti’s meeting had been scheduled before the latest round of legislation was introduced. He had three previous meetings in recent weeks with writers and producers. This was the first with studio suits. He is planning three more through mid-June with the idea of starting a dialogue, coming up with ideas and proposals.
Valenti told Daily Variety that he would not reveal the details of any of the meetings because that would not encourage a “candid discussion.”
But he also said that he believes the studios should be part of “any national crusade to reduce youth violence.”
Monday’s 45-minute meeting at the Peninsula Hotel was attended by 20th Century Fox’s Bill Mechanic, Disney’s Joe Roth, Columbia’s Amy Pascal, Paramount’s Jonathan Dolgen and Sherry Lansing, Warner Bros.’ Bob Daly and Terry Semel, Universal’s Ron Meyer and MGM’s Alex Yemenidjian and Chris McGurk.
One attendee, who asked not to be identified, described the meeting as “nothing more than an update.”
“It was just Jack filling us in on what’s going in Washington,” said the source. “Nothing was decided. We’re all digesting what we heard.”
Last week, the Senate passed a bill that calls for an investigation of Hollywood’s marketing practices. In addition, the bill calls on the studios and the rest of the industry to create a voluntary “code of conduct” which culture warriors hope would restrict the amount of sex and violence churned out by studios and television networks.
The anger toward the entertainment industry is the direct result of a rash of schoolyard shootings that has plagued the country for the past 2-1/2 years. While the culture war is always simmering in Washington, it exploded on April 20 when two teenagers in Littleton, Colo., killed 13 people at their high school before taking their own lives. Last week, a youth shot and injured six of his schoolmates in Conyers, Ga., before being subdued and arrested.
Critics of the entertainment industry have blamed Hollywood for creating a culture of violence that they say has given rise to a generation of gun-toting teenagers. Much of the abuse heaped upon Hollywood originates in the powerful gun lobby and its right-wing adherents in Congress, who nevertheless lost an important battle last Thursday with passage of a juvenile-crime bill that contained several gun-control measures.
(Andrew Hindes contributed to this report.)