Hollywood is supposed to be the place where people take risks. It’s the place where the industry types push the limits anew and create something fresh from the faint. It’s not supposed to be a place where yesterday is the standard. But this week, the Hollywood establishment made two choices that puzzled the forward looking – the Oscar for Best Picture went to the safest movie “The King’s Speech,” and the studio heads picked ethically challenged Chris Dodd to lead the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
In the press release announcing his appointment as the new MPAA Chairman and CEO, studio heads credited Dodd as “battle-tested” and experienced at “consensus-building”. But for anyone paying any attention to what’s happening in Washington these days, he’s one of the last people Hollywood needs representing them in the nation’s capital. For the last 30 years, Dodd has been a polarizing partisan in Washington. He’s a “proud Democrat” who considers bipartisanship a talking point rather than a philosophy. In fact, when The Hill – one of two daily newspapers focused on Capitol Hill – surveyed every Senator in 2009 for their opinions on bipartisanship among their ranks, Dodd was named the third least bipartisan member of the Senate. The studio heads are obviously partisans themselves but they shouldn’t also be foolish. A simple study of the political lay of the land for 2012 shows the Democrats in the Senate headed for a major defeat. If polls are accurate, Dodd will be expected to deliver votes from the majority Republican Party he has trash-talked for three decades.
While political expediency may seem inconsequential to Hollywood, it’s a critical issue inside the Beltway. The Democratic Party has long embraced Hollywood – supporting legislative agendas, making major campaign contributions and tolerating its creativity when critics complain the entertainment industry is out-of-touch with America. And Hollywood’s outreach to conservatives has been almost non-existent. The one-sided strategy is a big risk and having Dodd lead it is even more dangerous. As revolutions in technology and international distribution continue to risk Hollywood’s current status quo, the last person the industry needs as its spokesman is banking specialist Dodd.
Sending Dodd to Washington means Hollywood is looking to replicate Wall Street’s behavior of the last decade. Dodd gave us the multi-billion dollar bailouts and failures of AIG, Bear Stearns and Countrywide from his perch as Chairman of the Banking Committee. Why would Hollywood studio executives want to create the sequel if the original flopped? American taxpayers have seen this movie before.
Richard Grenell & Brad Chase