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No One Wants MPAA Job

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Wanted: Washington insider with affection for film industry:

    It’s one of the most prestigious and powerful lobbying positions in the nation’s capital.

    It comes with a seven-figure salary and a fistful of perks, including a limousine and driver. You get to hang out with movie stars and Hollywood celebrities, present Oscars at the Academy Awards, and wine and dine top politicians while they view first-run feature films at your office two blocks from the White House.

    So why doesn’t anybody want Jack Valenti’s job as the chief lobbyist for the movie industry?

    That’s the question the K Street crowd is asking these days after several top political figures turned down offers to succeed the 82-year-old former aide to President Johnson, who has held the job of chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for almost 34 years.

    Valenti, who made what he hopes will be his last appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony last weekend, has thrown up his hands and taken himself out of the picture as far as picking his successor goes after Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) turned down the chance to succeed him.

    Valenti announced this week that the MPAA has retained an executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, to develop a short list of candidates for the position that has been held by only three people since the MPAA was established in 1922.

    Sources in the movie industry and the D.C. lobbying community say the job, for all its glitzy appeal, has become much more difficult as the film industry faces many new challenges, including fighting off tighter government regulation and censorship, competing with cable TV and broadcast networks, and combating the threat of digital piracy of films.

    ….two names have surfaced in recent weeks as potential leading candidates.

    One is 12th-term Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Rules Committee who headed the successful gubernatorial campaign of movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger and has been romantically linked to several movie actresses.

    The other is even better known: White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who perhaps not so coincidentally was given a warm introduction at a Valentine’s Day party last month hosted by Bill Cohen, the former defense secretary and Republican senator from Maine. [The Hill]

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