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Waiting for Kerrey

June 11, 2010 |  3:11 pm

Hollywood's man in Washington is delayed in New York.

It has been more than two weeks since press reports surfaced that former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey had emerged as the top candidate to take the helm of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the movie and TV industry's lobbying arm.

Yet, the trade group has been conspicuously quiet on the subject. The delay has fueled speculation in Washington that Kerrey is having second thoughts about the famously thankless job, or that he is being courted by the insurance industry for a similar post.

A spokesman for Kerrey said he was unavailable for comment. The MPAA declined to comment.

People close to the search process say the former Democratic governor and U.S. senator from Nebraska remains the favorite for the job, and has expressed keen interest in it, but still hasn't given his final OK.

The two parties are still negotiating a contract, these people say, with the biggest sticking point being when Kerrey would start his new gig, which pays a base salary of $1.2 million.

That's an issue because Kerrey's current contract at the The New School in New York, where he is president, runs through June 30, 2011. If he accepts the MPAA job, Kerrey will have to negotiate an early release from his contract.

What's more, Kerrey wants to ensure a stable transition and give the university, where he has been president since 2001, enough time to find a successor, people familiar with the search say. One of Kerrey's potential successors at The New School, however, can't take up the position until early next year, further complicating when the former pol would find his way back to Washington. That would keep interim MPAA chief Bob Pisano on the job until at least the fourth quarter.

The question is: How long will the Hollywood bosses wait for a final answer?

-- Richard Verrier