Magazine article The American Prospect

Beverly Bayoubillies

Magazine article The American Prospect

Beverly Bayoubillies

Article excerpt

WHILE THE WORLD WAITS to see if Lost in Translation can best The Return of the King at the February 29 Academy Awards, the other question hanging over Hollywood is who will replace Jack Valenti, who plans to step down as chief lobbyist for the major film studios as soon as a successor can be found to head the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The group's first choice for the position was Representative Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Democrat turned Republican with a well-deserved reputation as a water carrier for lobbyists of innumerable stripes. Before getting the offer from the MPAA, which is worth more than $1 million per year, Tauzin was already performing distinguished service for Big Movie by using his position as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pressure the Federal Communications Commission into adopting "broadcast flag" rules for digital television. Tauzin's proposal would force television manufacturers to modify their product so as to be unable to record any specially marked digital-TV restrictions. The goal, ostensibly, is to prevent viewers from recording televised movies and then distributing them over the Internet, but in practice it would prevent all television recording, including constitutionally protected "fair use," such as digitally "taping" an episode of a favorite show or film to watch at a more convenient time.

Tauzin's efforts on this front, however, pale in comparison to his work shepherding the president's $540 billion giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry masquerading as a Medicare prescription-drug benefit. …

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