Filling Jack’s Shoes

Feb 2, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Now that Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., has taken himself out of the running to succeed Jack Valenti as head of the Motion Picture Association of America, the man to beat is said to be Sen. John Breaux, D-La.-if he will take the job. The senator was in the running last year, but dropped out in September when it appeared Rep. Tauzin was a lock for the job, which pays more than $1 million a year. Now some sources say it might be hard for Sen. Breaux to take the job after Rep. Tauzin publicly rejected it, reportedly for a more lucrative position with a pharmaceutical industry trade group. Sen. Breaux, who plans to step down from the Senate this year, has always been the better fit for MPAA, in part because he’s well liked and respected by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle. However, sources say the senator, who declined comment, may prefer to launch a lobbying firm. And some think the MPAA wants a Republican so it can better deal with the GOP-dominated Congress and White House. Other potential candidates include Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., chairman of the House Rules Committee (who is close to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger); Matt Gerson, a former congressional staffer and MPAA lobbyist, now senior VP for public policy and government relations at Vivendi Universal; and Tim Boggs, another former congressional staffer who was Time Warner’s top lobbyist in Washington. Mr. Tauzin’s decision came as a surprise to the MPAA. “He phoned me [Jan. 22] to express his gratitude and to tell me he was given a very generous offer from another enterprise,” MPAA’s Mr. Valenti said. Added Ken Johnson, Rep. Tauzin’s spokesman: “It was a very flattering offer, and it was difficult to say no. In the end, he did not feel that it was the best fit for him and his family.”