He may not be Spider-Man, but Dan Glickman, who will swing his way into the office of president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America on Sept. 1, faces the superheroic task of succeeding the retiring Jack Valenti, Hollywood's main webslinger in Washington for the past 38 years. ''The symbol of America is the movie industry,'' says Glickman, the 59-year-old former Kansas congressman and Clinton-era secretary of agriculture. ''You go anywhere in the world, even places that are hostile to us, and you can make friends by referring to movies or actors. So you want to keep it strong.''
Yup, Glickman talks like a politician -- the MPAA's seven member studios are counting on his D.C. connections and reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker to clamp down on the piracy of blockbusters starring the likes of Spidey and Shrek. ''The piracy issues are not ideological at all,'' notes the Democrat, adding, ''It's daunting, because it's going to be easier and easier to copy things just through technology.'' Also vital is making nice with an independent-film industry stung by last Oscar season's movie screener debacle, and possibly rejiggering a movie ratings system many complain is archaic.
Besides all that, Glickman already knows a little about Hollywood. His son, Jonathan, has produced such films as ''Grosse Pointe Blank'' and ''Rush Hour.'' ''I'm familiar with at least his end of the business, as a dad would listen to his son,'' he says, before admitting, ''I love the 'Rush Hour' movies.'' And his experience in government has prepared him for touchy times. ''When I was in the Department of Agriculture I was the most assaulted member of the Cabinet,'' he says. ''They threw genetically modified foods at me, I had nude protesters, I had all sorts of things.'' In other words, Hollywood is a natural fit.