Ending months of speculation, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday that retired U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd would be the movie industry's man in Washington D.C., effective St. Patrick's Day (March 17).
The job comes with an estimated $1.2 million salary and the "duty" of handing out much-sought-after inivtations to movie screenings in the MPAA's 70-seat D.C. theater.
From Deridre Shesgreen's Feb. 11 Connecticut Mirror Story on Dodd and the MPAA:
The former senator, who once dated actress Carrie Fisher (of Star Wars' Princess Leia fame) and one-time fashion icon Bianca Jagger, has long cultivated ties to major donors in Hollywood and New York. And he counts some big-name stars as good friends, including singer Paul Simon and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.
"They know him, and they know how smart and frankly how charming he is," said Don Fowler, who served alongside Dodd at the Democratic National Committee from 1995 to 1997. In that role, Dodd worked with other top Democrats to pry open the wallets of the Hollywood elite.
"I have seen him meet and relate to David Geffen, the Weinstein brothers, Spielberg," recalled Fowler, referring to the Dreamworks' co-founder; Bob and Harvey Weinstein, former co-chairmen of Miramax Films; and film director, screenwriter and producer Steven Spielberg.
"In the interplay with all those people," Dodd was both "charming" and "to the point," Fowler said. "I don't think there's any cultural incompatibility."
Dodd further cemented those ties when he launched his own presidential bid. His donor list during that 2008 race included actors Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, Universal Studios CEO Ronald Meyer, and Time Warner President Jeffrey Bewkes.
"I love Chris Dodd. I did a fundraiser for him in March," Paul Simon told the Washington Post during Dodd's 2008 run.
In the most recent election cycle, before he retired, the entertainment industry was among Dodd's top contributors. Television, movie and music interests gave him and his leadership PAC nearly $200,000 in that period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The entertainment sector ranked higher on Dodd's donor list than the defense industry, credit and finance companies, and drug firms.