October 12, 2009
Dan Glickman, Hollywood’s rep in Washington
Dan Glickman, the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America and an 18-year veteran Democratic congressman from Kansas, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that liberal Jews are losing their edge in Hollywood.
There are “more and more conservative Jewish people in the business,” he told JTA. “Ninety-nine percent of Hollywood is not out defending Roman Polanski. They’re normal people who do their job, work hard and want to help their families as best they can.”
Presumably at JTA’s prodding, Glickman debunks some of our favorite Hollywood-Jewish myths.
For example, “Do Jews-run-Hollywood?” To which Glickman points out that most modern day movie studios are owned by giant corporations that are “not Jewish controlled at all.”
As for a predominance of Jews in entertainment, Glickman reminds us that the bulk of the movie business is oiled by a wide spectrum of ethnic anomalies, from camera operators to delivery truck drivers.
These days, there are few who would argue with the notion that Jewish power in Hollywood just ain’t what it used to be, but that hasn’t stopped a tiny elite from monopolizing the creative executive positions along the upper ranks of the industry.
Glickman, who is 64, was raised in a small Jewish community of 1,000 in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. He admits he doesn’t get to synagogue often; in terms of observance, he’s a high holiday Jew, though he told JTA he credits Judaism for giving him “a value system of treating people well” and teaching him to “follow the golden rule.”
How sweet. It’s delightful to hear that someone with a mixed Washington-Hollywood pedigree is concerned with virtuousness, but just imagine how BORING Hollywood would be if more people were nice, like Glickman.
“Everyone likes Dan Glickman,” his friend, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington director of the American Friends of Lubavitch, told JTA.
Not so, says Nikki Finke, who wrote on her blog in March 2009 that many studio toppers were unimpressed with Glickman.
“The unhappiness focuses on the fact he’s a bad and boring speaker who has not repped the movie business well in Washington,” Finke wrote, quoting one of her many anonymous (and therefore, unverifiable) sources.
“The moguls in particular blame him for not being able to keep those $246M in tax breaks for studios and filmmakers intact within the stimulus package. The thinking is that Glickman, a Democrat like Jack Valenti (although that’s where the comparison ends), got outmaneuvered by Republican lawmakers,” Finke qualified.
To his credit, Glickman told JTA that being Jewish never hurt his career as much as being a Democrat. In 2004, when he took over the MPAA position, he was contending with a Republican president and Republican control of congress, who aren’t exactly adoring fans of Hollywood (Just ask Sarah Palin).
Finke added that she “wouldn’t be surprised if the MPAA looks for a GOP lobbyist” and speculated that Glickman may not hold his post much longer. (During the most recent negotiation, rumor has it Glickman’s contract was extended 18 months.)
To be fair, being well liked in Hollywood is almost as stunning an accomplishment as winning an Oscar. Which is why we’ll have to reserve judgment on Glickman until we speak to him ourselves.