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Top lobbyist for Hollywood movie industry leaving

Alan Fram

The face of Hollywood's movie industry in Washington is leaving the post next year, prompting a casting call for one of this city's most coveted lobbying jobs.

Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said Monday he will leave the post when his contract expires next September. The position mixes the glamour of hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities with the nitty gritty of issues important to studios like taxes and protecting films from unauthorized distribution on the Internet.

"It's more nuts and bolts and hard work than it's glamour," Glickman, who turns 65 next month, said in an interview.

"To be honest with you, people have come up to me since I've gotten the job and said, 'You have the greatest job in the world.' And I think they think that Angelina Jolie goes home with me every night. Which she doesn't, by the way. I mean, I would like it if she did," he joked.

Glickman earned more than $1.2 million in 2007, the latest year for which tax documents are available.

He took the post in 2004, succeeding the colorful Jack Valenti, who had been Hollywood's chief representative in Washington since 1966. Glickman, a low-key former Agriculture Department secretary and Democratic congressman from Kansas, has kept a lower profile than Valenti, who has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He died in 2007.

The movie industry's issues have become more complicated in recent years as Hollywood tries adjusting to complications the online world has caused for film distribution. Glickman said future heads of the association will need to be well-versed in technology.

The amiable Glickman was not without his detractors. Though the industry won aid in last year's economic bailout legislation that the association says is worth more than $400 million, Glickman came under fire early this year when the Senate voted to strip a provision from the economic stimulus bill that would have been worth $246 million to Hollywood in tax breaks.

"I think there was some responsibility to go around, and I don't like that we didn't have it in there," he said of the thwarted tax write-off. "But the issue is not dead."

Glickman expressed an interest in leaving the job earlier this year after he came under fire from some studio bosses, said one person familiar with the movie industry's work in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the conversation.

Another person — lobbyist Morris Reid, who has represented film industry interests in Washington — said Glickman was "never a perfect fit" for the position, in part because of Glickman's everyman personality. The two sources said Glickman was leaving the job both because he wished to and because top movie executives wanted him to go.

"It used to be the most glamorous job, and they miss that," said Reid, managing director of the BGR Group. "With glamour comes access."

Asked if the association's board wanted him to leave, Glickman said he would not discuss such details. "The board is happy with me," he said.

Glickman said he has no future employment lined up but is interested in global hunger and agriculture issues.

Glickman said he believes the board's hunt for a replacement is just beginning. Reid said one possible candidate is Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council and a former Democratic congressman from Tennessee.

The person familiar with the movie industry's presence in Washington said possible successors include Bob Pisano, the association's chief operating officer; Richard Bates, a lobbyist for The Walt Disney Co.; and Matthew Gerson, lobbyist for the Universal Music Group.


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The Associated Press