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Who needs the MPAA?

Jennifer Collins Mar 2, 2011

Who needs the MPAA?

Jennifer Collins Mar 2, 2011


Kai Ryssdal: I’m going to bring up a familiar name now: Christopher Dodd. As in former Senator Christopher Dodd. He’s so recently gone from Congress that lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to enforce the last big bill he worked on — Dodd-Frank, the financial reform package. But we’re not here to talk about any of that.

The ex-senator has a new job. He’s gone Hollywood. Not in that “Dancing With the Stars” kind of way. But in the lobbying way. He’s the new head of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports he’s going to have more to do than just hang out with famous and rich people.

Jennifer Collins: Chris Dodd is no stranger to the movies. Here he is playing himself in the political comedy “Dave.”

Christopher Dodd: I think putting people to work in this country is what we ought to be doing. It’s far better to have someone with a job than collecting a welfare check.

Dodd’s new bosses wouldn’t mind if he stayed in character. Marty Kaplan is a professor at the University of Southern California. He says Dodd will need considerable political skill to represent the six major movie studios.

Marty Kaplan: It’s not always true that the interests of all the studios align so that on issue after issue, it’s a question of negotiating compromises and herding cats.

Those issues are likely to include piracy, intellectual property and fees for content from cable providers. Edward Jay Epstein is the author of “The Hollywood Economist.” He says the government has a role in much of that.

Edward Jay Epstein: And this is where a U.S. senator could be most effective at lobbying.

Media management professor Nelson Gayton says the MPAA doesn’t have the clout it once did, and Dodd will face challenges.

Nelson Gayton: They selected someone who doesn’t seem to have the policy experience in intellectual property, which is probably one of the top things on their agenda.

But Marty Kaplan says Hollywood and Washington are all about power and illusion.

Kaplan: So it’s a perfect fit between two myth-making factories and to the degree to which Chris Dodd is out there gaining strength from the Washington myth and the Hollywood myth, he’ll have bigger clout.

Dodd starts his new role later this month.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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