New MPAA chief Christopher Dodd comes out swinging

Most know Christopher Dodd as the former Democratic senator from Connecticut. Considering his opening salvo as new MPAA chairman this week however, it’s clear the ex-politician wants people to remember him as the guy who saved Hollywood from piracy — or at least tried.

Dodd addressed the importance of movie theaters, piracy’s effects on the industry and more in his first speech as head of the MPAA this week.

New MPAA chief Christopher Dodd comes out swinging

“I am deeply concerned that too many people see movie theft as a victimless crime,” said Dodd on Tuesday at the annual CinemaCon tradeshow in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Addressing an audience comprised of National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) members, he went on to declare “It is critical that we aggressively educate people to understand that movie theft is not just a Hollywood problem. It is an American problem.”

Appointed by the Motion Picture Association of America as its new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on March 1st, Dodd assumed his new role March 17th. He took over the position from previous chief Bob Pisano, who himself was an interim replacement for Dan Glickman.

The content of his inaugural speech may not surprise anyone familiar with the MPAA’s past thoughts on piracy.

“Those who steal movies and TV shows, or who knowingly support those who do, don’t see the faces of the camera assistant, seamstresses, electricians, construction workers, drivers, and small business owners and their employees who are among the thousands essential to moviemaking,” Dodd said.

After his speech, the former senator told The Hollywood Reporter that the U.S. government viewed Hollywood as merely “red carpets and tuxedos” — an allusion to the argument that Congress hasn’t done enough to help curb piracy and protect movie studios’ rights. However, Dodd was quick to admit the government which he was formerly a part of for over 30 years wasn’t solely to blame, telling the site: “Studios are terrific at selling their films but terrible, just terrible, at marketing their business.”

Dodd’s long history as a senator and call to arms – he told CinemaCon attendees to reach out to their local legislators and let them know how important the issue is – is certainly a boon for the MPAA, who, despite the effects of piracy, recently divulged that 2010 was a record year for the industry.

“It’s impossible to compete with free” may have become the group’s sound bite-worthy understatement of the century, but plenty of folks are still handing over cash for a proper theater experience — annoying commercials and all.