Thanks for the feedback to my earlier comment.
I've excerpted some quotes and information from articles that I think
you'll find interesting. But first, allow me to speculate a bit.
Jack Valenti headed the Motion Picture Association of America until
just a few days ago, when he stepped down to allow his replacement,
former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, to step up to the plate.
As head of the MPAA, I imagine that Valenti would be rather reluctant
to offer an opinion as to the merits of an individual movie. His job,
after all, is to lend support to the entire film industry, rather than
to act as a film critic. This is especially true regarding a
controversial film like Fahrenheit 9/11, and even more so when part of
the controversy has to do with the film's rating. Since MPAA
administers the rating system -- and assigns the ratings to a film --
Valenti would be hard pressed to offer any pubic opinions about
Moore's film. To make a statement that he didn't like the film -- and
then have MPAA assign a controversial "R" rating which limits
attendance -- would run the risk of seeming vindictive rather than
I am only aware of one time in Valenti's career in the film industry
when he broke this self-imposed code of silence. That was for the
1991 Oliver Stone film, JFK. You may know that Valenti was a
confidante of Kennedy's, and was riding in the Dallas motorcade with
JFK on the day of his assassination. That he would have strong
feelings on the topic is understandable. In fact, he was prepared to
resign as head of MPAA in order to make public his feelings about the
film. Even here, though, his responses were mitigated by the
pragmatics of the film industry, as will be seen in the excerpts
I hope this information provides you the insights you were looking
for. Before rating this answer, please let me know if you need any
clarifications or any additional information.
Information below is excerpted directly from newspaper articles, with
my own comments in brackets:
Los Angeles Times
July 2, 2004
Film Industry To Get New Top Lobbyist
Valenti, although he officially stepped down Thursday, said he planned
to help with the transition through summer, with Glickman taking over
Sept. 1. Valenti also will continue to oversee the often controversial
movie ratings system he fathered in 1968. This, Valenti said, would
spare his successor from the frequently volatile and distracting
disputes over ratings, as evidenced by the MPAA's recent spat with
filmmaker Michael Moore over the R rating given his documentary
...Valenti, who is a native of Houston, was riding in the Dallas
motorcade working as a political advance man when President Kennedy
was assassinated in 1963. He can be seen in the famous picture of the
somber Johnson being sworn in on Air Force One.
The Toronto Star
June 30, 2004
...Distributors of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 are battling the
Motion Picture Association of America again. The MPAA rejected a quote
from critic Richard Roeper - "everyone should see this film" - for use
in the film's ad campaign. Given the restrictive nature of an R
rating, the MPAA disallowed the words "everyone should." The
association's head, Jack Valenti, held a conference call Monday with
Roeper and representatives of the distributors, including Canada's
Lions Gate Films, but it stuck to its decision...
Los Angeles Times
June 23, 2004
'Fahrenheit' Bid to Reduce R Rating Fails
...MPAA President Jack Valenti said the appeal was "a classic example
of how the rating system works."
June 23, 2004,
Moore's 'Fahrenheit' to keep its R rating
..."This is a classic example of how the voluntary rating system works
to benefit parents," MPAA chief Jack Valenti says.
Los Angeles Times
June 18, 2004
Fans, foes of '9/11' gearing up
...MPAA chief Jack Valenti declined to comment.
[This article gives a brief history of films that have become very controversial]
The Baltimore Sun
May 30, 2004
'Day After Tomorrow': Drowning in rhetoric;
A few other films that became political footballs:
JFK: No less a personage than Jack Valenti railed against this 1991
film that seemingly blamed President Kennedy's assassination on
everyone but Lee Harvey Oswald. The movie actually led to the release
of some documents concerning the 1963 assassination, but conspiracy
theorists remain implacable.
[You may be interested in seeing this entire op-ed article, in which
Valenti offers a detailed account of his displeasure with films that
present fiction as fact, and includes some history of his actions
regarding the film, JFK. The article can be retreived from the
Washington Post archives site:
The Washington Post
March 20, 2004
'False History' on a Screen Near You
...The blending of a fragment of fact into a volume of fiction is
becoming a staple of so-called docudramas. Recently the History
Channel ran a "documentary" wherein the author of a book from which
the film was taken, in full close-up, says without ambiguity that
Lyndon Johnson killed President Kennedy and ordered the murder of
eight others, including his own sister!
...Which takes me back to what was arguably the most unrepentant
distortion of truth ever imprisoned on film, Oliver Stone's "JFK," his
1991 movie account of the murder of President John F. Kennedy. I
watched it in a large theater with my youngest daughter, Alexandra. As
we exited the theater, she said to me in a low voice, "Daddy, is that
really what happened? It's all so real." It hit me like a hammer: If
my own daughter was caught up in Stone's disreputable plausibility,
what must others think?
...Within a day of seeing "JFK," I called Bob Daly, then co-chairman
of Warner Bros. studio, a movie chieftain of great integrity and one
of the wisest men in the film industry. I told him I was ready to
publicly denounce the film. I said, "Does any sane human truly believe
that President Johnson, the Warren Commission, the CIA, the FBI, the
Secret Service, local law enforcement officers, assorted thugs,
weirdos, all conspired together as plotters in Stone's wacky
...Bob was calm. He instructed me in a further reality. Because I was
the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, was I not
in a conflict of interest? Yes, I replied, and I said I was willing to
resign my post so that conflict would be dissolved. Finally Bob and I
agreed that I would be silent until all voting for Academy Awards had
been concluded and announced. Then I would go public.
...Newspapers on April 2, 1992, carried my assault on Stone's film. I
said, among other comments: "Young German girls and boys in 1941 were
mesmerized by Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will,' in which Adolf
Hitler is pictured as a new-born God. Both 'JFK' and 'Triumph of the
Will' are equally a propaganda masterpiece and equally a hoax."
I don't know if Valenti views Fahrenheit 9/11 as a distortion of the
truth. But as his account above makes clear, even for a film like
JFK, he was forced to bite his tongue for a while pending the Academy
Awards. Valenti may one day offer an opinion on Michael Moore's
filmmaking as well. But right now, the time doesn't seem ripe for any
comments from the recently-departed head of the MPAA.
Again, let me know if you have any questions....and enjoy your 4th of July.
search strategy: searched Google and several newspaper databases for:
[ valenti Fahrenheit ]
[ valenti jfk "oliver stone" ]