MPAA lead man Dan Glickman had a "get me out of here" look on his face for most of Saturday afternoon's Brave New World: Entertainment and Social Change panel. And can you blame him? A sometime congressman and former Secretary of Agriculture, Glickman was nothing but humble upon his turn to speak. "I came here as the least qualified person to speak about movies," he admitted. "Here I am representing what I believe is the most powerful industry in
America ... [and] I have a lot to learn about this business." Cue poor agriculture metaphor in 3 ... 2 ... 1: "Indie film is the intellectual fertilizer of America," Glickman said. Presumably, this was his way of beslavering the assembled masses, but it hardly came off.
By that point in the panel, Glickman had already dug his own grave with an opening gaffe that pretty much stripped him of what little credibility he had as even a film fan, let alone as the enforcer o fpolitics over content. Earlier, moderator Pat Mitchell got the following all-in-fun jab in the ribs whilst introducing panelist/God of Sundance Robert Redford:
Mitchell: [Redford's] body of work includes, from the very begining ... films about so much
more than enjoying ourselves– they were about changing the world. The Candidate actually led to some people running for office –
Redford: Yeah – the wrong people.
About twenty minutes later, after his own introduction from Mitchell, Glickman tried to improv-riff on that little exchange, with the worst possible results.
Glickman mumbled, so I'm paraphrasing, but his opening statement went something like, "I may have been the wrong person to run for office, but I did it long before The Graduate." It's not just that Hollywood's most powerful government representative managed to accidentally insult the most important independent film advocate in (maybe) the world whilst enjoying said advocate's hospitality – he did it by referencing a film that then-pretty-boy Redford was famously up for the lead in, only to be passed over for Dustin Hoffman. The reaction? Darts from Redford's eyes, a murmur from the crowd, and an interruption from Mitchell: "The Graduate?"
Glickman is a convenient scapegoat in this crowd – probably everyone on the panel (which also included producer Jeff Eberts, founder of eBay and Participant Productions Jeff Skoll, and indie distribution master Bingham Ray) has had a ratings scuffle of some kind, and surely a good portion of the audience lives in fear of his determination to brutally prosecute any and all piracy that appears on his radar. But other than a few moments of minor humiliation for a guy who was probably asking for it by showing up in the first place, the panel was smoothly engaging, if not revelatory. The remainder of my notes follow, below the jump. I think, beyond Glickman, they really key stuff here comes from Jeff Skoll, who broke down exactly why his Participant Productions can justify putting out two potentially incediary George Clooney films in a single year without every worrying about using the star to turn a profit.