Hollywood moguls convene in nation's capitol for a change
For the first time anyone could recall, studio chiefs trekked to Washington to attend the annual meeting of the MPAA on Wednesday.
Former MPAA Chief Executive Dan Glickman and his predecessor, Jack Valenti, previously held yearly board meetings in Los Angeles. But Glickman's successor, Christopher J. Dodd, the former senator from Connecticut, has made it his priority to elevate the group's profile in the nation's capital, hence the change of venue.
Those in attendance included Jim Gianopulos, the chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment; Barry Meyer, chief executive of Warner Bros. Entertainment; and Sony Pictures Entertainment boss Michael Lynton. Top of the agenda was marshaling support for two anti-piracy bills winding their way through Congress that would crack down on foreign websites trafficking in pirated movies and other goods.
But the studios are facing heavy opposition from Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and other Internet companies that believe the bills would stifle free speech and innovation on the World Wide Web.
To make their case, the Hollywood executives joined a delegation of union leaders -- including Screen Actors Guild Executive Director David White, Directors Guild of America Executive Director Jay Roth and Matt Loeb, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees -- in meetings with key members of Congress and senior members of the Obama administration, according to the MPAA.
A spokesman for the trade group declined to say which officials the group met with, but one person familiar with the gathering said one meeting was with Vice President Joe Biden.
The purpose was to discuss "the critical importance of curbing online content theft and improving international market access,'' the MPAA said in a statement.
"Millions more people work in theaters, retail, restaurants and other businesses that depend on entertainment,'' Dodd said in a statement. "For all of these workers and their families, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits.”
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: MPAA Chief Executive Christopher J. Dodd. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images