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Hollywood to Start Narrowing Search for Valenti's Successor

June 24, 2004|James Bates | Times Staff Writer

Hollywood studios today are set to finally start winnowing down potential replacements for Jack Valenti as head of their trade group, although sources said they expected picking a successor to take until at least July.

Representatives of the Motion Picture Assn. of America's seven studios are scheduled to discuss in a conference call this afternoon results of a search by executive recruiter Spencer Stuart, studio sources said, with a follow-up call planned next week.

Sources with the major studios said one name at the top of the list was Dan Glickman, a former Kansas congressman who served as Agriculture secretary under President Clinton.

Studio sources said Clinton, who enjoyed close ties to Hollywood, had even served as a reference for Glickman, now director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Glickman's son, Jonathan, is a senior executive and producer at Spyglass Entertainment.

Also considered a top candidate is former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, now a communications and government affairs advisor to cable giant Comcast Corp. Sources also said studio executives continued to show interest in some dark-horse candidates, notably San Diego schools chief Alan Bersin. None of the three could be reached for comment.

Valenti for more than a year has been pushing to retire, although an effort to replace him with Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) fell apart when Tauzin turned the job down in January.

Sources close to the process cautioned that there still was no consensus. They added that one unresolved issue was whether Valenti's job should be split into two posts, that of a chief executive and a chief operating officer.

Even if executives agree soon on a name, sources said, member studios will have to negotiate a contract. Valenti earns more than $1 million a year.

Valenti has held the Washington-based job since 1966, hired after working as a top assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. Valenti has begun his transition into a new role that he plans to pursue upon retirement: raising money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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