MPAA luncheon draws industry heads to D.C.

Dwayne Johnson, Sen. Orrin Hatch featured speakers

WASHINGTON -- Dwayne Johnson and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah entertained and informed a luncheon here Tuesday at the MPAA's second biennial "The Business of Show Business" symposium.

Johnson discussed the hard, complex and sophisticated work that goes into movies, which remain a very affordable form of entertainment.

He also joked that the audience was probably thinking as he stepped onto the stage that "Yes, he is just as attractive as our president." In reference to his former wrestling name, he also quipped: "They call me The Rock Obama."

Meanwhile, Hatch spoke out in favor of government action to battle what he called "the pervasive problem of piracy." He cited estimates that U.S. intellectual property is worth $5.0 trillion-$5.5 trillion -- higher than the GDP of many nations.

Hatch also lauded the recent Pirate Bay piracy case decision in Sweden -- a remark that earned him big applause from industry folks in the room.

Indeed, the industry was out in full force for the luncheon, including Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey, Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO Barry Meyer, Universal Studios president and COO Ron Meyer and Universal Pictures vice chairman Rick Finkelstein, as well as Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Jim Gianopulos.

Hatch at one point criticized President Obama's budget and tax policies, saying new spending will require new tax and other revenue generating initiatives. The film industry so far hasn't been treated too well by the current political leadership, he said, acknowledging that most in the room were probably Obama fans.

But Hatch also had jokes to offer. Addressing Cook, he said: "Disney, you meet our standards. The rest of you bums, I'll tell you..."

He also quipped about a 15 minute scene he filmed for " 'Traffic,' which got cut to 11 seconds, saying: "I'm really resentful of you people."

Hatch also earned laughs with a list of things he has learned from the movies. It included: Fleeing heroes can always find cover in a St. Patrick's Day parade any day and soldiers survive wars unless making the mistake of showing someone a picture of their sweetheart back home.
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