It's back to square one for the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
After months of negotiations with former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey to become head of the movie industry's chief lobbying arm, talks between the two sides broke off, again raising questions about who will become Hollywood's man or woman in Washington.
The MPAA declined to elaborate on why the advanced talks suddenly ended Thursday, but people close to the matter said the two sides ultimately had different views of the job. The parties had appeared close to hammering out a lucrative deal worth $1.2 million annually for Kerrey to succeed Dan Glickman, who stepped down as chief executive in January.
People close to the situation said the MPAA board decided to pull the plug on negotiations after Kerrey continued to express ambivalence about the job and the effect on his lifestyle, including the heavy travel schedule it would require and his reluctance to uproot his family and relocate to Washington from New York.
In a statement, Kerrey said, "An agreement could not be reached and both sides agreed it would be best to break off discussions." The MPAA said its search for a new CEO would be renewed. People close to the MPAA said there are no obvious candidates at the moment.
Kerrey, currently president of the New School, was the leading candidate for the job. That the two sides couldn't strike a deal is a big blow to the association and the movie industry, which is currently overseen by interim chief Bob Pisano.
Running the MPAA is no small task. The association was headed by Jack Valenti, a fixture in Hollywood and on Capitol Hill who for nearly four decades was able to bring together media giants with opposing agendas and present a unified front to Washington lawmakers.
But since Valenti retired in 2004, the clout of the MPAA has waned. Glickman, despite being a veteran politician, was not viewed as a force in the power corridors of Washington.
Part of the challenge for any new MPAA head is getting members, which include Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment and Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment., in line on the various issues, including piracy and government regulations. The studios, which were stand-alone companies for much of Valenti's reign, are now units of global media conglomerates with conflicting agendas, making it tricky to forge consensus.