Dan Glickman, in his first address to a Hollywood crowd since becoming Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy, said the perception in Washington, D.C., that the movie industry is uniformly Democratic is hurting biz interests.
Movie industry lobbyists have had difficulty getting things done this year in Congress, where Republicans are steamed about both the large number of celebrities who were outspoken in favor of John Kerry as well as the MPAA’s decision to hire Glickman, a Democrat, to succeed Jack Valenti.
“A congressperson told me, first it was Whoopi Goldberg, then it was Dan Rather, and now there’s Dan Glickman,” he said.
He said his job in D.C. is to underline that “the business of Hollywood is nonpartisan. I can’t do my job and the studios can’t do their job if we are perceived as partisan.”
Luncheon was hosted by the L.A. World Affairs Council at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Monday. Glickman, who was most recently the Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration, used the opportunity to introduce himself to the crowd, underlining that his cabinet post largely dealt with international trade matters.
“Soybeans and Spielberg are both big export items for America,” he said.
He also passed on his wife’s advice to him on how to soothe worries that his resume has no previous entertainment experience: “Tell them the biggest part of the word ‘agriculture’ is ‘culture.'”
Speech outlined the studio trade org’s strategy to fight piracy, including the move to sue individual downloaders of films, and weighing the implications of the “moral values” vote in last week’s election.
In a Q&A afterward, Glickman was asked whether the high number of voters who cited “moral values” as their most important issue in last week’s presidential election presaged more culturally conservative criticism of Hollywood entertainment.
“I think it’s a good question,” he said, “but it’s one I think I have to be a little vague on.”
Referencing his work primarily in “the reddest of the red states” as agriculture secretary and his nearly two decades as a Democratic Congressman from Kansas, he added, “I think I can be a good bridge builder. But I don’t know where they are going to go, or how long they are going to be.”
On piracy, Glickman said the MPAA’s current strategy is to use lawsuits against individuals to enforce the law, to promote the idea that piracy is theft, and foster legal movie services that satisfy consumer demand.
“The truth is we would much rather pull people into theaters than drag them into courtrooms,” he said. But the MPAA wanted to battle online movie piracy before technology makes it as common as music piracy has become.
“Our big fear,” he said, “is that it becomes mainstream behavior and then there is no way to stop it.”
In addition to lawsuits and ad campaigns, Glickman said another way to fight piracy is to encourage more indigenous film industries in foreign countries so that other countries feel they have more of a stake in protecting entertainment intellectual property rights.