May 31, 2004

A Tough Act To Follow [10:36 am]

Note that this article is a typical reflection of The Times’ general inability to discuss “piracy” in anything but the most crude fashion (although see the “page three” discussion of the dissent within the ranks over employing the RIAA’s lawsuit strategy) — Hollywood’s Casting Problem: Who Will Run the M.P.A.A.?

The job of running the association ought to have a long, juicy waiting list of Washington V.I.P.’s. Who wouldn’t want a million dollars a year to plump for Tom Cruise instead of, say, biomedical tax credits?

Oddly, not too many folks. Representative Billy Tauzin, Republican of Louisiana, at first accepted, then — after being offered a lot more money by the pharmaceutical industry — rejected the job last fall. Since then Senator John Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana, has also been wooed by the the association, to no avail. He let it be known that he wasn’t eager to defend Janet Jackson’s right to show a nipple ring.

The process of finding Mr. Valenti’s replacement is nonetheless moving forward, if ever so slowly and under a cloak of heavy secrecy.

[... T]he job is becoming even harder. The crisis of worldwide movie piracy, held at bay only by technological limits, threatens to sink the movie industry entirely, as it may the music business. Numerous Hollywood and Washington figures, including candidates for the job, point out that it’s a double whammy: the new chairman will have to follow Mr. Valenti’s 38-year act while coming up with a solution to the industry’s new perils. Potential candidates may remember that even the polished Mr. Valenti received a very public black eye last fall when he attempted to end the longstanding practice of distributing videotapes and DVD’s to people who vote on the Academy Awards. He introduced the change as a way to cut down on piracy, but it was met with a revolt by art-house distributors and a rebuke by the courts.

“I think it’s a job people are interested in, but it’s perceived — and rightly so — to be a hard job,” said Hilary Rosen, the former chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry lobby. “If there are easier jobs available, for more money, then why take a hard job?”

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