Hollywood responded with neither tears nor cheers to Dan Glickman’s announcement today that he would leave his post as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Hollywood’s chief lobbying organization in Washington. During his five-year tenure as the industry’s mouthpiece and chief figurehead in Washington, the entertainment business has had to contend with some radical shifts, ranging from the increasing threat of internet piracy to diminishing profits in the once-lucrative DVD business. But in the midst of all this change, the general consensus is that Glickman never fully rose to the challenge of aligning the often-warring studios with one cohesive battle plan. Instead, he tried to be all things to all people. “He basically needed to have bigger balls,” says one major studio executive. “He could never get everyone on the same page and didn’t provide the kind of leadership necessary to convince the various studios to compromise agree on their priorities.” Another big strike against him came when he failed to obtain tax cuts for Hollywood in the economic stimulus bill.
Looking ahead, most insiders agree that his successor will have to be a strong leader with a clear set of priorities about what’s worth lobbying for in Washington. Names mentioned to be in contention for the job include Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Tennessee Democratic congressman, Harold Ford, and the current COO of the MPAA, Robert Pisano. One former MPAA executive contends that the best person for the job will be someone tough enough to tame Hollywood’s fiercest lions. “Washington connections are important, but it’s almost more important to be seen as someone who comes at the job with a deep understanding of Hollywood,” the source says. “The studios are a tough group.”