Dan Glickman, a former House Democrat from Kansas who was agriculture secretary during the Clinton administration, was named Thursday to replace lobbying legend Jack Valenti as boss of the Motion Picture Association of America.
The seven Hollywood studios settled on Glickman after an exhaustive search that reviewed the qualifications of about two-dozen candidates, including former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria (Torie) Clarke, now a consultant with Comcast Corp.
Valenti, 82, left the Johnson White House in 1966 to take the MPAA position. More than one year ago, he signaled that he was prepared to retire.
Glickman, 59, becomes the MPAA’s president and CEO effective Sept. 1.
“I hope to be half the guy Jack Valenti has been,” said Glickman, who is stepping into a post that pays about $1 million annually and comes with lots of perks.
Glickman is currently director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and a teacher at the Kennedy School of Government.
Valenti -- a diminutive powerbroker known for his sharp prose and colorful oratory -- has long been referred to as Washington’s highest-paid lobbyist. He is probably best known as creator and proud defender of the MPAA movie-rating system, which was put in place in 1968 to help parents find suitable films for children.
With the advent of file-sharing over the Internet, Valenti decided to push government officials here and abroad to crack down on Internet film piracy that the MPAA said helps to drain $3.5 billion annually.
But his critics alleged that Valenti is attempting to encroach on hard-won home recording rights obtained in the battle over the legality of VCRs.
Arguing that VCRs threatened to extinguish Hollywood, Valenti many years ago told a congressional committee: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."
But it turned out that the VCR drove home-video sales and produced many billions of dollars in new revenue for the studios.