LAS VEGAS (AP) — Chris Dodd made his Hollywood debut as head of the Motion Picture Association of America on Tuesday, saying he hopes to get the industry talking itself up more to audiences.
The former Democratic senator and 2008 presidential candidate delivered his first public address as the boss of the industry's top trade group at CinemaCon, a Las Vegas convention for theater owners. Dodd emphasized the group's long-standing efforts to fight illegal film copying and to open markets such as China to more Hollywood films.
But he says getting the word out on Hollywood innovations and threats facing the film industry are critical goals, too.
"It would be great to get the industry to be better storytellers about themselves in a sense," Dodd said in an interview. "These are not shoe salesmen. They've got a theater."
"As a politician, if I had a theater — let me tell you something, if I had a theater owner say to me, 'On Saturday, can you come down here and meet with all my people and talk about the movies?' As opposed to what, going to talk about health care at one of those crazy forums or talk about taxes? I would jump at the opportunity. I think there's an opportunity to really educate people about the economics of this business."
Dodd started the job this month after leaving the Senate, where he represented Connecticut for 30 years. He replaced Dan Glickman, a former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary who retired after six years as MPAA chief.
Before that, the MPAA, which represents top Hollywood studios, was run for nearly 40 years by Jack Valenti, who oversaw the creation of the film-ratings system that remains in place today. Valenti died in 2007.
Dodd, 66, reiterated aims launched in Valenti's time to fight movie theft and open overseas markets. He also defended the ratings system, which critics, filmmakers and audiences often gripe about, saying it can be too permissive on violence and puritanical on sex.
With 9- and 6-year-old children of his own, Dodd said he and his wife rely on the ratings system to help them determine what films are appropriate for the family.