The job of representing Hollywood doesn't sound like a natural for a former Secretary of Agriculture. But Dan Glickman, who also served as a nine-term Congressman from Kansas, is the man the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has tapped to succeed the inimitable Jack Valenti as its president. TIME's Sonja Steptoe quizzed him about his new role.
What makes you think you can do this job?
From a family perspective, movies have been a part of my life. My wife Rhoda and I probably see 100 movies a year. When I was in Congress, I was on the House Copyright and Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, so I have some familiarity with the MPAA and movie-company issues. There are a lot of industries in America that we've seen dissipate. But the movie industry remains extremely strong. The U.S. still has a dominant role, and it's often the face of the country.
SOME REPUBLICANS ARE ALREADY COMPLAINING THAT YOU'RE A DEMOCRAT WHO'S ON THE WRONG SIDE OF FREE TRADE, PROPERTY RIGHTS AND LABOR ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO HOLLYWOOD. ARE THEY RIGHT?
No, they're dead wrong. For the six years I was Secretary of Agriculture, I was very involved in international trade issues and helped negotiate a lot of agreements and spent a lot of time in China and other parts of the world dealing with those issues. I think the background actually helps me. As for property rights, I strongly believe in the importance of protecting creative rights. This isn't a partisan job.
WHAT'S YOUR CHIEF MEMORY OF MOVIEGOING WHILE GROWING UP IN WICHITA, KANSAS?
When I was a kid, we always went to movies, and I loved the experience. My dad liked the popcorn at movies better than anyplace else. I still get a fond feeling when I smell popcorn--and not the air-popped kind but the real McCoy. It's a fairly fattening proposition, I might add.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
If I had to pick, I'd say The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. I've seen them many, many times, and never tire of them. In fact, at our house we used to act out the scenes between Michael and Fredo.
WHICH HOLLYWOOD STAR ARE YOU MOST EAGER TO MEET?
I suppose it's Jack Nicholson. I like almost every movie he's done. As an actor, he's the guy who lives his life and doesn't let life live him.
WILL YOU LET HARVEY WEINSTEIN PUSH YOU AROUND?
I hope not to let anyone push me around. I don't know Harvey Weinstein, and I'm sure he's a very nice guy.
YOU'VE SAID COMBATTING PIRACY IS YOUR CHIEF PRIORITY. BUT SO FAR THE STUDIOS AREN'T EXACTLY WINNING THAT WAR.
The protection of intellectual-property rights is at the top of the agenda so that people can continue to create and produce. At the same time, the industry has to embrace technological change. So you have to figure out how to do both. It's a complicated issue, and I'm going to have to spend a lot of time on it.
SOARING U.S. PRODUCTION COSTS MAKE CHEAPER FOREIGN LOCALES MORE ATTRACTIVE TO FILMMAKERS. CAN YOU BLAME THEM FOR SHOOTING IN PLACES LIKE ROMANIA RATHER THAN, SAY, NORTH CAROLINA?