Blockbuster Meeting Set for L.A.

Posted June 17, 2003 at 4:14pm

The heads of Hollywood’s seven largest movie studios are planning to meet privately this month to discuss who will eventually succeed Jack Valenti, their famed top Washington lobbyist.

So secret is the meeting that the Motion Picture Association of America refuses to confirm that the session is even taking place.

But K Street has as many loose lips as Hollywood Boulevard, and insiders said the meeting will take place in Los Angeles in the last week in June.

The topic of discussion will be how to replace Valenti when the movie industry’s longtime lobbyist chooses to step down after decades at the post. Insiders stress that there is no plan to try to push the longtime lobbyist out.

In fact, Valenti will sit in on the meeting along with the heads of MPAA members MGM, Universal Studios, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox.

The 81-year-old Valenti has been ru-

mored to be nearing retirement, and the speculation has become so rampant that the MPAA has given up trying to stop it.

“We just are not responding any more to rumors and speculation concerning MPAA and Jack Valenti,” said MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor.

When pressed on the trip, Taylor added, “Jack makes three to four round trips every month out to California. … We don’t talk about them and we don’t promote them.”

Some of the possible star replacements said to be on the industry’s dream lists include Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

Bono an No-No? Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) is trying to stamp out speculation that she will become the music industry’s top Washington lobbyist, but the door is still at least slightly ajar.

Bono spokeswoman Cindy Hartley said the post could be a “dream job” for her boss, but “it is not something that she is actively pursuing or something that she is being considered for.”

Bono’s name has come up for the vacancy at the Recording Industry Association of America, where President Hilary Rosen is set to leave her post at the end of the month. And Hartley did not completely shut the door on the possibility, saying that Bono “plans” to run for another term in Congress.

“She hasn’t even been officially approached by them,” said Hartley. “She is extremely happy where she is. She definitely plans to run for re-election for the House.”

The flames were fanned by Bono’s own chief of staff, Frank Cullen, who suggested to Billboard Magazine that his boss might want the job.

“These accounts are the result of some overly enthusiastic comments attributed to my chief of staff who felt I was a natural candidate for this role due to my long history as a defender of intellectual property issues,” Bono said in an official statement released by her office on Monday. “He was merely responding to speculation contained in numerous press articles that I was one of several Members of Congress being considered for this position.”

In addition to her work on intellectual property issues, Bono represents a Southern California district and is the widow of singer, songwriter and former Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.).

Bono also has been mentioned as a potential statewide candidate in California.

Qorvis Snags Landrieu Aide. Rich Masters, former policy and communications director for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), will become managing director for the public relations firm Qorvis Communications.

At Qorvis, Masters will develop the firm’s media relations training center.

Before joining Landrieu’s first Senate campaign team in 1996, Masters was an Emmy award-winning news reporter and anchor for television stations in Louisiana, Illinois and Iowa. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Livingston Foundation Award, which honors the nation’s best young journalists.

Bates Takes Lobbying Post. Hunter Bates has joined the lobbying shop Frost Brown Todd LLC after a Kentucky state judge said the former Senate aide did not meet residency requirements to run for lieutenant governor.

In the primary race for the state house, another Republican candidate challenged Bates’ in-state residency while he served as the Washington-based chief of staff for Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Bates was running with Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.), who found a new running mate and clinched the Republican nomination on May 20. Fletcher will face state Attorney General Ben Chandler (D) in the Nov. 4 general election.

Bates continues to serve as outside legal counsel to McConnell in the constitutional battle over campaign finance reform, which is set to be mediated by the Supreme Court this fall.

Change at Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae, the nation’s top student loan provider, has brought on a top Freddie Mac lobbyist to manage its government affairs practice.

Lauren Tennes, who was Freddie Mac’s director of government relations, was also the home mortgage giant’s manager of state government relations. Tennes held a similar position at the National Restaurant Association before coming to Freddie Mac.

Governors’ Association Gets New Guru. The nation’s association of state governors has named David Quam as its new director of sate-federal relations.

Quam comes to the National Governors Association — which is a policy and legislative advocacy affairs operation for the nation’s 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths — from the government relations and international business practice at Powell, Goldstein Frazer & Murphy.

Reed’s New D.C. Shop. The Atlanta-based Century Strategies public affairs firm, founded by GOP strategist Ralph Reed, is opening an office in D.C., and has hired a top GOP fundraiser as a top lobbyist.

Gretchen Purser, who will be Century’s vice president for federal affairs, has served as executive director of The President’s Dinner, a top fundraising dinner which benefits the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Michael E. Grass contributed to this report.