Chris Dodd emerges as front-runner for Hollywood’s top lobbying job


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Hollywood’s seemingly endless search for an industry lobbyist appears to be zeroing in on former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

Dodd, a former U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful who recently retired from the Senate, has long been a candidate to head the Motion Picture Assn. of America, replacing former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who resigned as chief executive a year ago.


But a person close to the MPAA, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said that over the weekend Dodd had emerged as the top contender and was now the only candidate in negotiations for the job, which pays $1.2 million a year.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Dodd was among three finalists. On Monday, the website Politico said he was the only candidate in negotiations.

Dodd has already been interviewed by several senior studio executives and a deal could be reached in the next several weeks, but it could also fall apart, the source cautioned.

Indeed, Dodd is still weighing his options, a representative said. ‘He hasn’t made any decision yet,’’ said Mike McKiernan, a spokesman for Dodd. ‘He’s still talking to people in both the private and public sectors to figure out his next step.’

If recent history is any guide, there is good reason for caution. Last summer, the role looked like it was going to be filled by former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.). But the MPAA’s board eliminated him from consideration after he expressed last-minute reservations about the job and the prospect of moving to Washington, D.C., from his home in New York.

Other leading candidates have since come and gone, including former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.). Washington lawyer Antoinette Cook Bush also was considered a finalist as recently as last week.

But the MPAA’s search committee was focusing on Dodd because they’ve been searching for a high -profile candidate who could pull strings in Washington.

Dodd, 66, served five terms in the U.S. Senate where he was known for his expertise on family and children’s issues, as well as financial services. He served as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee after an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008.

But Dodd’s political career was also marked by its share of controversy. He took heat for his role in allowing insurance giant AIG to pay $165 million in bonuses in 2009 at a time when the company was receiving federal bailout money.

In 2008, Dodd also was investigated by a Senate ethics panel over allegations that he received improper discounts for mortgages he received from Countrywide Financial Corp. In August 2009, the committee found ‘no credible evidence’ that Dodd had violated any rules but criticized Dodd and his former Senate colleague Kent Conrad of North Dakota for not avoiding the appearance of impropriety.

Though the entertainment industry is new to Dodd, he is not a total stranger to Hollywood. He played himself in the 1993 political satire ‘Dave.’

-- Richard Verrier