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Valenti defends ratings system

MPA prexy will bring friends for next round of testimony

WASHINGTON — Lamenting the “open season” on Hollywood, MPA prexy Jack Valenti returned to Capitol Hill Wednesday to defend the rating system he helped give rise to 32 years ago.

“I don’t know why we are being assaulted like this,” Valenti told reporters.

Valenti came to testify at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was called in response to a loud outcry over the sale of violence to kids by the entertainment industry. He wasn’t able to take his turn, though, since the hearing ended unexpectedly.

It won’t be his last chance, of course. Valenti will return to Capitol Hill Sept. 27 for a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the same general issue.

Bringing some friends

But Valenti won’t be coming alone this time. Accompanying him will be a high-ranking exec from each of the seven major studios, plus DreamWorks. It will be the movie industry’s first public response to an FTC report blasting Hollywood for doing an end-run around its own rating system by luring kids to violent movies.

Perhaps offering a preview, Valenti told reporters Wednesday there will be no changes to the MPA’s rating system, but that “what we are going to do is offer more ways in more places to give information to parents” about what various ratings mean. He declined further comment.

Hollywood insiders said discussions between the studios about how to respond to the FTC are still fluid. At the same time, there is some consensus to utilize the rating system differently. Whether the studios will split with Valenti on the particulars is uncertain.

Last week, the Directors Guild of America called for a major overhaul of the MPA’s ratings.

Valenti said the 32-year-old rating system needs no complications and that its beauty is its simplicity. He said lawmakers keep stating that R-rated movies are unsuitable for kids, when that isn’t the case. Those under 17 can go to R-rated movies, but only when accompanied by an adult.

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