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3 items from 2007


Former MPAA Head Jack Valenti Dies at 85

27 April 2007 | IMDb News

Jack Valenti, the lobbyist who spearheaded the creation of the Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system, died Thursday afternoon in Washington, DC; he was 85. Valenti had recently been ill after suffering a stroke back in March, and had been at Johns Hopkins Hospital receiving treatment until Tuesday, when he returned home. Born in Texas, Valenti served as a pilot for the US Army Air Corps during World War II before going into advertising and political consulting. It was in that capacity that he met Lyndon B. Johnson in 1955, who was at the time the Senate Majority Leader. He later went to work for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, and was in charge of the press detail during President Kennedy's fateful trip to Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Valenti was part of the presidential motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated, six cars behind the President and his wife, and was also present at Johnson's swearing in aboard Air Force One. As Johnson assumed the presidency, Valenti became his political confidant and was dubbed "special assistant," overseeing congressional relations, diplomacy and speech editing among other duties. It was with the film industry, though, that Valenti would gain his fame and power, as he resigned in 1966 to head the Motion Picture Association of America. Two years later, he helped come up with a system that would put to rest the industry's notorious Hays Code, which placed extreme restrictions on film content and language. His system, still in place today, devised ratings to denote the age-appropriateness for film, the now-familiar G, PG, R and X ratings (which later added PG-13 and dropped X in favor of NC-17). From the beginning it was a system constantly under fire, as its birth coincided with the burgeoning independent film movement of the late '60s, when filmmakers began aggressively pushing the boundaries of profanity, language and sexuality. One of Valenti's first battles was over the 1966 Oscar-winning film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, wherein Valenti's scrupulous and microscopic attention to detail and language would color the MPAA's working style and reputation for years to come. Throughout his career, Valenti tirelessly campaigned for the film industry, making both rich friends and bitter enemies along the way, alienating filmmakers and working hard in Washington, DC to keep Hollywood profitable. One of his most notable missteps was his derision of the home video market, which would later become one of the most profitable aspects of the film industry. He also brought the PG-13 rating into being in 1984, after furors surrounding extremely violent PG movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom arose, and attempted to abolish the stigma of the X rating by subsituting it with the NC-17 rating, which immediately achieved its own notoriety with the release of the high-profile flop Showgirls. Despite Valenti's attempts to revise the MPAA and its rating system for a new era, it remained a secretive and often puzzling group, and came under fire last year for its perceived censorship practices and labyrinthine appeal system in the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. By that time, Valenti had retired two years previous in 2004, passing on leadership to Dan Glickman. He continued to campaign for both the film and TV industries, and his memoir, This Time, This Place, was set for publication in June of this year. He is survived by his wife, Mary Margaret Valenti (who was secretary to Lyndon Johnson when he met and married her), and their three children. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff

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Former MPAA Head Jack Valenti Dies at 85

26 April 2007 | IMDb News

Jack Valenti, the lobbyist who spearheaded the creation of the Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system, died Thursday afternoon in Washington, DC; he was 85. Valenti had recently been ill after suffering a stroke back in March, and had been at Johns Hopkins Hospital receiving treatment until Tuesday, when he returned home. Born in Texas, Valenti served as a pilot for the US Army Air Corps during World War II before going into advertising and political consulting. It was in that capacity that he met Lyndon B. Johnson in 1955, who was at the time the Senate Majority Leader. He later went to work for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, and was in charge of the press detail during President Kennedy's fateful trip to Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Valenti was part of the presidential motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated, six cars behind the President and his wife, and was also present at Johnson's swearing in aboard Air Force One. As Johnson assumed the presidency, Valenti became his political confidant and was dubbed "special assistant," overseeing congressional relations, diplomacy and speech editing among other duties. It was with the film industry, though, that Valenti would gain his fame and power, as he resigned in 1966 to head the Motion Picture Association of America. Two years later, he helped come up with a system that would put to rest the industry's notorious Hays Code, which placed extreme restrictions on film content and language. His system, still in place today, devised ratings to denote the age-appropriateness for film, the now-familiar G, PG, R and X ratings (which later added PG-13 and dropped X in favor of NC-17). From the beginning it was a system constantly under fire, as its birth coincided with the burgeoning independent film movement of the late '60s, as filmmakers aggressively pushed the boundaries of profanity, language and sexuality. One of Valenti's first battles was over the 1966 Oscar-winning film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, wherein Valenti's scrupulous and microscopic attention to detail and language would color the MPAA's working style and reputation for years to come. Throughout his career, Valenti tirelessly campaigned for the film industry, making both rich friends and bitter enemies along the way, alienating filmmakers and working hard in Washington, DC to keep Hollywood profitable. One of his most notable missteps was his derision of the home video market, which would later become one of the most profitable aspects of the film industry. He also brought the PG-13 rating into being in 1984, after furors surrounding extremely violent PG movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and attempted to abolish the stigma of the X rating by subsituting it with the NC-17 rating, which immediately achieved its own notoriety with the release of the high-profile flop Showgirls. Despite Valenti's attempts to revise the MPAA and its rating system for a new era, it remained a secretive and often puzzling group, and came under fire last year for its perceived censorship practices and labyrinthine appeal system in the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. By that time, Valenti had retired two years previous in 2004, passing on leadership to Dan Glickman. He continued to campaign for both the film and TV industries, and his memoir, This Time, This Place, was set for publication in June of this year. He is survived by his wife, Mary Margaret Valenti (who was secretary to Lyndon Johnson when he met and married her), and their three children. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff

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Raters to offer full disclosure

17 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

In an effort to make the workings of the ratings system more transparent, MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman and Joan Graves, chairman of the Classification and Ratings Administration, plan to meet with filmmakers, producers and directors at a breakfast Monday in Park City.

A number of pending changes to the ratings system, operated by the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners, are on the agenda for discussion. For example, for the first time in its 38-year history, CARA plans to make its ratings rules and regulations public. It will describe the standards for each rating as well as the appeal process in a posting on the MPAA's Web site, so it will be easily accessible to filmmakers.

In addition, CARA also plans to post demographic information about the parents who serve on the ratings board and reveal the identities of its senior raters. Also, the size of the appeals board will increase later this year, with both the MPAA and NATO appointing new members. And while filmmakers have not been allowed to cite precedents in other films when appealing a rating, that also is about to change.

Although Glickman and Graves don't plan to unveil anything as dramatic as a new letter rating, at Sundance they will outline the anticipated alterations to the system, which will be formally announced before theater exhibitors at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas in March.

It will be Glickman's second visit to the Sundance Film Festival and Graves' first foray into the indie-focused gathering in Park City. When Glickman took over as MPAA chief in September 2004, he faced an indie film community that viewed the industry trade association with suspicion as a result of the MPAA's unsuccessful attempt to outlaw awards-season screeners the previous year.

At the same time, the ratings board, which rates about 900 films a year, has plenty of contact with indie filmmakers because about 65% of the films it rates are indies -- produced by companies outside the major studios, which are MPAA signatories, and their subsidiaries. (On average, about nine ratings are appealed each year, and about one-third of the appeals result in the original rating being overturned.)

But among indie filmmakers, a lot of distrust also is focused on the ratings system, which director Kirby Dick attacked in his documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated", which, coincidentally, debuted at last year's Sundance. »

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3 items from 2007


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