Q&A: Meet New MPAA Chief Chris Dodd
The former Senator introduces himself to Hollywood, talks piracy and reveals how Warren Beatty helped him decide to take the job
Christopher Dodd was named the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America on Tuesday, making him the new voice and face of American movies and TV shows worldwide. After nearly four decades in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, this is a significant transition for Dodd, 66, a Democrat who has long prided himself on being able to work both sides of the aisle. Shortly after the announcement, Dodd spoke by phone from the Washington, D.C. offices of the MPAA with Hollywood Reporter Senior Editor Alex Ben Block. An edited transcript follows:
The Hollywood Reporter: Go ahead and introduce yourself to Hollywood.
Christopher Dodd: I've known a lot of the folks I'll be working with for some time and I'm really very enthusiastic. I think the experiences I've had up here for the last 36 years putting together major pieces of legislation, running a major Senate office, as well as the Democratic national committee years ago, is experience that will be of value. I served in the Peace Corps, chaired the committee dealing with Latin America for the last 30 years, so I have a strong interest in Latin America. I was the chairman of the U.S.-India caucus. I was in Mumbai not long ago and met the leadership of Bollywood at the time, but had no idea I'd be doing this.
THR: You had a lot of other job offers, some of which might have paid you more. Why did you choose to take on this job?
Dodd: I talked to a lot colleagues before I left, asking their advice. Someone said something to me very smart. They said there are jobs that have great "issues." And in other [jobs] the issues won't be great but the people will be great. This is one where actually you get both. The issues are great and the people... I must tell you -- and this is not blowing smoke -- If I didn't think these were good people I wouldn't have taken the job. I'm really impressed with (Warner Bros') Barry Meyer, (Disney's) Bob Iger, who I didn't really know that well; (Universal's) Ron Meyer and I have been friends for 30 years. And (Fox's) Jim Gianopulos I didn't know terribly well, (Sony's) Michael Lynton. These are very good people. (Paramount's) Brad Grey I've known. (SNL producer) Lorne Michaels and I have been friends for 35 years. (HBO's) Richard Plepler worked for me 30 years ago. He was on my staff. I was on the first board of the Sundance Institute. Bob Redford and Warren Beatty are good friends. I had long chats with Warren about this job privately. As with everybody else, I asked, What do you think the pros and cons were about all of this? I like the people. I love the issues. I think the digital threat issue is not just a limited issue for the film industry. It is one that cuts across intellectual property. We've got to deal with it. I think market access is going to be a huge issue and challenging. So to be involved in a great set of issues with great people, involved in a great industry, it doesn't get any better than that. Jack Valenti and my dad were great friends and he became a great friend of mine. And of course Dan Glickman and I served together and I have great fondness for Dan Glickman as well.
THR: You have young children and this job requires a lot of travel. Are you ready?
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