Hollywood's new director

Dan Glickman, the new chief of the Motion Picture Association of America, says he wants to mend the rift with Silicon Valley.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read
LOS ANGELES--The head of the movie industry lobby is now a Kansas farm boy.

Well, not exactly, though Dan Glickman, the newly installed chief of the Motion Picture Association of America, is from Kansas and did serve as U.S. Agriculture Secretary for six years in the Clinton administration. But Glickman's roots are in the courtroom and the U.S. House of Representatives, not the wheat fields. His resume, which includes 18 years in Congress, will come in handy because he has big shoes to fill, replacing the legendary Jack Valenti, who vacated the post earlier this year.

Change is inevitable. You've got to encourage new technology.

Glickman spoke to CNET News.com shortly after giving his first public talk as MPAA boss, at last week's Entertainment Technology Summit at the University of Southern California. He tapped away on a BlackBerry as we met, but said he is only "average" when it comes to technology stuff. Already an avid movie buff, Glickman said he will probably have to learn some more about technology in the coming months.

Q: What message do you have for Silicon Valley?
A: I want to send a signal that we want to work together with them. I need to learn a lot about what they do. Our member companies are very much engaged in this. One of my charges is to explore ways to work with the industry.

What does the movie industry need to do differently?
First off, we have a tremendous reservoir of goodwill around the country. People love movies. This is an industry that almost every age group finds is an important part of their lives. One of the things is that as we'll see all of these new technologies emerge, we have to find a hassle-free, low-cost way to get this content to people. But you don't produce things for free.

You have spoken about needing to take action before unauthorized movie downloading becomes mainstream. How long do you think the industry has?
Technology is rapidly making it easier. Given the size of bandwidth (available), it will become easier and easier to be transmittable.

Bill Gates said recently that the movie industry is where the music industry was five years ago. Do you think five years is enough time for the movie industry to come up with a new business model?
Well, music and movies are different. I'm not sure it is exactly the same. I would have to say there will have to be an evolution of the ways in which you deliver the product.

Despite the differences, it seems that there are some parallels between your former role, helping the agriculture industry, and your new job, helping guide the movie industry--in both cases, you have an industry that produces something valuable that finds itself faced with new pressures.
There are a lot of parallels. Agriculture used to be a local phenomenon. Most food was grown near where you lived. There was very little consolidation. Technology hadn't really taken hold. Another similarity between the agriculture and the movie industries is that both are big exporters and big contributors to our balance of payments.

To survive, you will need new delivery systems. But I think the theatrical experience--seeing a movie in a theater--will be at the heart of it. I do love movies. I think they are critically important for the general creative soul of this country. They are a great unifier. Almost every other experience is something people do on their own.

What is the role of lawsuits in protecting the movie industry?
Change is inevitable. You've got to encourage new technology. You've got to do education, and you've got to do research and technology. You've also got to enforce your rights. Some are criminal (actions). Some are civil.