MPAA Head Jack Valenti to Step Down
LAS VEGAS, NV — In what will likely be his final appearance at the ShoWest exhibitors convention, Jack Valenti, venerable head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), announced plans to step down within the next few months.
Valenti, who is now 82, has served as president and CEO of the industry lobbying group since 1966, when he accepted the position after leaving a stint as a staffer in the Johnson administration.
Under Valenti’s direction, the MPAA scrapped the Hays production code, an overbearing censorship system once used by studios to regulate film content, for the MPAA rating system, which assigns films a particular rating based on violence, nudity, language, and other factors.
The system, created just two years after Valenti’s arrival at the MPAA, represents a sort of gentleman’s agreement between Hollywood and Washington. By using its own rating system, Hollywood has avoided harsher forms of censorship that could potentially be imposed in
With Valenti’s perfect balance of entertainment and political connections, the rating system, however imperfect, has allowed filmmakers much greater artistic control over their work.
Recently, however, Valenti seemed to find himself on the wrong side of filmmakers, when he implemented a ban on DVD screeners for Academy members due to concerns over digital piracy. After months of protest from smaller studios that rely on the screeners to promote their work, Valenti was forced to relent.
But, as Valenti put it at ShoWest, “I can sum up for you in two words my greatest accomplishment in that long tenure. Those two words are: ‘I survived.”’