I just saw news on the AP wire that Jack Valenti, retired longtime head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, died today at the age of 85. Valenti had remained very active since retiring from the MPAA in 2004, but had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in March. He left a Baltimore hospital Tuesday to return to his Washington home where he died.
I did not know Valenti well, but we crossed paths, and swords, on a number of occasions. I believed, and continue to believe, that the movie industry's obsession with preventing piracy creating a huge lost opportunity to take advantage of the revenue potential of digital entertainment. But Valenti was a passionate and effective spokesman for his position, and despite his years in the snakepit of Washington politics, still knew how to disagree without being disagreeable. He will be missed.
NOTE: The original post erroneously reported that Valenti had died in Los Angeles.