5 Questions: Chris Dodd

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

After nearly four decades in Congress, Dodd, 66, is the new MPAA chairman and CEO, Hollywood’s chief lobbyist and its face around the world.

You had other job offers, some of which might have paid you more. Why did you take this job?

The issues are great, and the people — if I didn’t think these were good people, I wouldn’t have taken the job. I had long chats with [longtime friend] Warren Beatty about this job. I asked, “What do you think the pros and cons are?” I think the digital-threat issue isn’t limited to the film industry; it cuts across intellectual property. We’ve got to deal with it. I think market access is going to be a huge issue. To be involved in a great set of issues with great people in a great industry — it doesn’t get any better than that.

You have young children, and this job requires a lot of travel. Are you ready?

Yes. My 6-year-old said, “Are you ever going to be a senator again?” I said, “What would you like me to do?” She said, “I’d either like to have you run the zoo or open a candy shop.” I’ve just taken the perfect job. I’m going to be able to do both: I’m going to run a zoo and a candy shop called the MPAA.

Many believe the MPAA has lost some of its influence since Jack Valenti died. What will you do differently?

I know there are other issues, but the digital theft issue and market access are ones we’ve got to deal with. Obviously that’s going to require a lot of cooperation. The one thing I heard over and over in my conversations with the leaders of these businesses is how determined they are to come together as a team on these issues that they face.

But the studios are all part of media conglomerates with different agendas. Is reaching a consensus even possible anymore?

That’s not going to change. But there are a great common set of issues. I understand the issues and I’m determined to bring a passion to them, to educate the American public, to educate opinion leaders in this country about how important it is. People would arrest you if you walked into a retail store and stole items. That’s exactly what is happening with intellectual property. It’s being looted, and that needs to stop. We need to figure out a way to carry that message and develop a means and technique to put a stop to it.

Will interim head Bob Pisano be staying on?

Let me just get settled. I haven’t walked into this building in probably two or three years. So one thing at a time.