Bob Kerrey out of running for top job at MPAA


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It’s back to square one for the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

After months of negotiations with former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey to become head of the movie industry’s chief lobbying arm in Washington, talks broke down between the two.

The MPAA declined to elaborate on why negotiations had ended. The two sides had seemed close to hammering out a lucrative deal worth $1.2 million annually for Kerrey to succeed Dan Glickman, who stepped down as chief executive in January.


In a statement, Kerrey said, ‘An agreement could not be reached and both sides agreed it would be best to break off discussions.’

People close to the situation said Kerrey had started recently to express reluctance about uprooting his family from New York to Washington. Kerrey was ambivalent about the job and not thrilled with the heavy travel schedule and effect on his lifestyle, according to people close to the MPAA. The board of the MPAA, growing tired of Kerrey’s foot-dragging, decided to part ways.

Kerrey, currently president of the New School, was the leading candidate for the job. That the two sides couldn’t strike a deal is a big blow to the association and the movie industry.

Running the MPAA is no small task. The association was headed by Jack Valenti for almost four decades, and he was able to bring together media giants with separate agendas and present a unified front to Washington lawmakers. But since Valenti retired in 2004, the clout of the MPAA has waned. Glickman was not seen as a force in the power corridors of Washington. He announced he was leaving late last year.

Part of the challenge for any new MPAA head is getting members, which include Walt Disney Co., Viacom, Time Warner and Sony Corp., in line on the various issues, including piracy and government regulations. The studios, which were stand-alone companies for most of Valenti’s reign, are now just units of global conglomerates making it tricky to forge consensus.

-- Joe Flint