WASHINGTON -- Dan Glickman, secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, was named president of the Motion Picture Association of America, replacing Jack Valenti as the top lobbyist for Hollywood studios such as Walt Disney Co. and Universal Pictures.
Glickman is a former Democratic member of Congress from Kansas and now is senior partner of the Washington law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He's also director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He takes over the motion picture job in Washington on Sept. 1, as Congress has begun to respond to Valenti's efforts to fight film piracy.
The illegal copying of motion pictures costs studios about $3 billion a year, Valenti has said. Over 50 movies were secretly filmed with camcorders in theaters in the year ended May 2003. Most are shipped to Russia to be copied and distributed worldwide, he has said.
''Piracy and protecting the intellectual property rights of creative works has got to be the number one priority, both at home and overseas," Glickman, 59, said at a Washington press conference. ''There's got to be a multifaceted approach: enforcement, litigation and education."
Glickman, who will be paid more than $1 million a year at the movie association, was chosen from more than 25 candidates selected by the Spencer Stuart Inc. executive recruiting firm in a five-month search, Valenti said.
Another leading candidate was former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, according to the Los Angeles Times. Valenti didn't dispute that report yesterday at a news conference in Washington to name Glickman.
The seven members of the movie association include Disney, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. studio, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Valenti, 82, was a press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson and has held the association position since 1966. He established the movie ratings system and has actively lobbied Congress to fight illegal copying of films on home video and the Internet.
The Senate last week unanimously passed a bill cracking down on movie piracy.
''The state of the industry is very good," said Valenti, who has said his favorite movie is ''A Man for All Seasons," the 1966 biographical drama about Sir Thomas More. Valenti predicted continued sales growth for digital video discs and high-definition television and said Internet users would soon be able to view any of 20,000 films at any time they choose. Digital cinema, he said, ''is just over the horizon."
An advertising executive in Texas before coming to Washington to work for Johnson, Valenti was a bit player in the drama surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Johnson's assumption of power.
Valenti was on Air Force One when it carried Kennedy from Dallas to Washington, and he appears in the background of the famous photograph taken of Johnson's swearing-in next to a blood-spattered Jacqueline Kennedy.
Valenti's work ethic and colorful personality helped raise the profile of the movie association in Washington, industry observers said, and he was known for his often florid speaking style.
Valenti said yesterday the association was ''visibly and relentlessly impressed" with Glickman's understanding of Congress and his international experience.
Glickman served in the House of Representatives for 18 years and was chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He then served as President Clinton's secretary of agriculture from 1995 until January 2001.
Glickman's son, Jonathan, is president of Spyglass Entertainment Group, a Los Angeles film production company. Glickman said his favorite movies include ''The Godfather," ''E.T.," ''Animal House" and ''Schindler's List."
''The biggest challenge for Glickman will be crafting the proper strategy to combat legalized piracy on the Internet," said Tom Pollock, a film producer and former Hollywood lawyer who was head of Universal Pictures from 1986 to 1995.
One possible strategy, similar to the campaign pursued by the music business's Recording Industry Association of America, would be to sue individuals who swap movies on the Internet, Pollock said. Another approach would be to support competitive legal online services that sell movies, similar to Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes for music.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, has pressed lobbying groups to hire more Republican lobbyists. Glickman yesterday sought to put those concerns to rest. ''It's important to me to reach out to both parties, but particularly to Republicans on Capitol Hill, so they're comfortable this isn't a platform for partisan activity, which it won't be," Glickman said.