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Next stop, Hollywood: Dan Glickman, the director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), was named the next chair of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) yesterday, ending a months-long search to replace 82-year-old Jack Valenti as the film industry’s chief lobbyist.
In the decades before arriving at the IOP in August 2002, Glickman served as Secretary of Agriculture for the better part of the Clinton Administration following an 18-year career representing Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives. This fall, he will turn his attention to the silver screen—but the veteran politician says his new job fits in with his years in Washington.
“Every job I’ve had has kind of built [on] the previous job,” Glickman said yesterday. “Politics is in everything. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the agenda of the motion picture industry has to be done through the Congress and through the government.”
As MPAA head, Valenti became that industry’s public face, introducing the G–PG–PG-13–R film rating system and more recently launching a crusade to protect movies from electronic file-sharing services.
When Glickman replaces Valenti in September, he said he plans to use Beltway connections and know-how accumulated over a life of public service to “push a bipartisan legislative agenda through.”
“I think they wanted someone who knew the Congress well,” Glickman said. “This is very much a job that is involved with legislative issues.”
Glickman—whose son Jonathan is a successful Hollywood producer with films like Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights and both Rush Hour features under his belt—said his time on the House Judiciary Committee had made him knowledgeable about copyright issues.
He said online piracy would remain high on the MPAA chair’s list of priorities, along with issues including freedom of expression and foreign distribution of American films.
But Glickman acknowledged the element of the unknown in his newest career.
“There’s a learning curve for me,” Glickman said. “I’m going to have to spend the next few months...getting up to speed.”
THE LONG GOODBYE
Glickman’s selection ends a months-long search that began in March, when the octogenarian Valenti announced his impending retirement.
As recently as May 30, The New York Times asserted that the MPAA was “nowhere close to finding Mr. Valenti’s successor.”
“Doesn’t anyone want to run the MPAA?” that article asked.
In the same May article, titled “Hollywood’s Biggest Casting Problem,” The Times reported that Glickman was one of three remaining top candidates for the position, which two congressional representatives had already turned down after strenuous efforts to recruit them.
Glickman said yesterday that he had not initially expected to get the job.
“They hired a headhunter,” he said. “I got a call a few months ago to see if I was interested. I never really thought anything would come of it.”
But Black Professor of Political Economy David T. Ellwood ’75, who assumed the deanship of the Kennedy School of Government yesterday, said many were less surprised by the MPAA’s choice.
“I think that those of us who knew his skills and abilities knew this was a real possibility simply because he brings so much to the table,” Ellwood said.
Ellwood said that a search process for the IOP’s next director had not yet begun, and that it could last past Glickman’s departure into the fall. In that case, he said, an interim director might come to the Institute.
Ilan T. Graff ’05, president of the IOP’s Student Affairs Committee, said Glickman would be sorely missed, lauding his political talents and ability to interest youth in politics.
“The combination of both having his own big ideas and being able to listen to other ideas that come to the table served him well at the IOP,” Graff said, adding that he thought these qualities would serve Glickman well at the MPAA.
Ellwood echoed Graff’s words, citing the political figures Glickman has brought to the IOP as guest speakers or fellows.
“One of his great strengths is he reaches out to people quite readily and is good at bringing together people from a variety of places and areas,” Ellwood said of the departing director. “He obviously brings to the [MPAA] a deep and quite comprehensive knowledge of the political process and Washington.”
And though Glickman said he was looking forward to joining “one of the most interesting industries in the world,” he said he would miss Harvard.
“The IOP is unbelievable,” Glickman said. “There’s no university in the country that has a place like the IOP.”
—Staff writer Simon W. Vozick-Levinson can be reached at email@example.com.
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