As the movie industry gears up for its biggest night of the year—the Academy Awards on March 5—it’s facing a challenging world. Even while DVD sales are up, movie attendance is down, and online file sharing and overseas piracy are adding new pressures.
The industry’s frontman here is Dan Glickman, chair of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Glickman’s DC career began in 1976 when he was elected to the House from Kansas. He served as secretary of Agriculture under President Clinton and later was director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
In 2004 he took over at the MPAA from legend Jack Valenti, who had led the organization since 1966.
Your all-time favorite movies? The Godfather Part II, Gandhi, and Animal House. Our family has play-acted The Godfather a hundred times. Animal House was my fraternity [at the University of Michigan]—it was the classic fraternity. The movie was not that much more bizarre than actual fraternity life.
Recent movie? Crash. In a weird sense I also really liked Wedding Crashers. Also Walk the Line.
Place to watch a movie in Washington? The MPAA screening room.
That’s not much of a pastime for you. How about reading about politics as an observer?
Favorite book? The autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.
What’s on your bookshelf now? Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays. I also just finished Andrew Weil’s Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being.
All-time favorite restaurant? Albert’s, a Chinese restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. It’s no longer around.
Everyday restaurant? Cafe Milano. They have this pounded veal and pounded chicken—my mouth waters just thinking about it.
Favorite food? Anything with mustard. I’m a mustard fanatic.
Best meal ever? My mother’s Passover dinner.
Historical figure you’d most like to meet? Mark Twain. There’s too little humor in this world; people don’t laugh at themselves enough. Twain was an expert on that. Plus he wasn’t a politician; he made fun of them.
Favorite object you own? Copies of my dad’s jokes. He was a real comedian, a joke collector par excellence. When he was speaker, Jim Wright would call up my dad for jokes.
Thing that others would find surprising about you? I’m fairly spiritual.
Biggest difference between you and Jack Valenti? Other than our age and height? I haven’t lived long enough to have his experience, knowledge, and judgment. Hopefully I will.
What makes Washington special? It’s the center of the world’s greatest democracy. We should be a symbol of so many great things around the world.
In my other world in LA, we’re a business that makes people smile and happy. I’m not sure Washington always does that.
What makes going to the movies special? It’s much cheaper than going to a psychiatrist, and you get a lot of the same benefit.