Thursday, March 4, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: More on Richardson & the MPAA

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 4, 2010

David Cargo, one of the first New Mexico governors to try to lure movies to the state, actually got bit parts in some films that were made here in the late 1960s.

But according to a report in a blog of the Washington, D.C.-based National Journal, the movies might have more than a bit part for the current governor of New Mexico.

Quoting unidentified “K Street sources,” the lobbyist-news blog called “Under the Influence” reported last month that our Hollywood-friendly governor is under consideration for chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America. According to the report, Richardson is one of three possible replacements for current MPAA CEO Dan Glickman, a former congressman from Kansas. Glickman is retiring next month.

A spokesman for Richardson on Wednesday strongly denied that Richardson was seeking the film-industry job. “The governor is not interested in this job and he is not interested in becoming a lobbyist,” Gallegos said in an e-mail. “He plans to live in Santa Fe and drive around the country visiting Major League ballparks after (his) term ends.”

However, one local source deeply involved in the film industry — who asked not to be named — said Wednesday, “My phone’s been ringing off the hook all day” with calls from those in the film industry all over the country. “People love the idea. There’s a ‘draft Richardson’ movement out there.”

A spokesman for the MPAA in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that he knew nothing about who is in line to replace Glickman.

“Richardson makes sense because he has that global international experience, he knows state and federal staff and it keeps the job at an elevated level,” said one K Street source quoted in the story.
The MPAA is the film industry’s lobbying group in Washington, D.C.

Besides being former congressmen, Glickman and Richardson have another thing in common. Both were members of President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, Glickman as secretary of agriculture, Richardson as energy secretary and United Nations ambassador.

Indeed, it’s a job well-suited for political types. Before Glickman, the head of MPAA was Jack Valente, who had been an aide and confident of President Johnson.

It would be a well-paid job. Glickman’s salary and benefits amount to $1.3 million a year, the blog said.

And the film industry clearly has become one of Richardson’s passions since he became governor.

He’s pushed millions in tax incentives for movie productions and allowed the state to directly invest in film projects. He’s encouraged colleges and universities to establish training programs for building the state’s film industry. In recent months, with his pal Robert Redford, Richardson has promoted a new center for training Hispanic and Native American filmmakers, which will open next month at Los Luceros, north of Española.

And he created a film museum — though there’s no exhibits or programs — just space for the desk of its $88,000 director.

On second thought, if Richardson did submit his résumé to the MPAA, he probably didn’t include the film museum.

Richardson frequently has said that being governor of New Mexico is the best job in the world.

But with the current state budget crisis — not to mention sinking poll numbers — sacrificing “the best job in the world” for a $1.3 million job where you don’t have senators and pundits complaining about your every move might be a tempting proposition.