Former Screen Actors' Guild leader and studio veteran Bob Pisano has resurfaced after a six-month hiatus to become president and operations chief of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.


LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Former Screen Actors' Guild leader and studio veteran Bob Pisano has resurfaced after a six-month hiatus to become president and operations chief of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

Pisano will manage operations of both the MPAA, which represents major studios, and its international counterpart, the Motion Picture Assn. MPAA chairman/CEO Dan Glickman will continue to shape the organizations' overall strategy.

"Having this uniquely experienced industry veteran on my team will help me drive the priorities of this crucial American industry here and overseas and permit me to devote my time and energy to setting strategic priorities, which will facilitate a successful motion picture industry at home and around the world," Glickman said.

Pisano will start Oct. 1 and be based in Los Angeles, where he intends to lead the fight against piracy.

"The No. 1 priority is content protection -- not just law enforcement but leveling the playing field in terms of duties and tariffs," said Pisano, who will report to Glickman.

To that end, Pisano and Glickman welcomed U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank on Sept. 22 to discuss intellectual property protection with leaders of the major studios.

Pisano said he took the job for the challenge and the opportunity to work with leaders across Hollywood.

"I love this industry, and if this is a way for me to help it prosper, then I'm delighted to do it," Pisano said.

Although the MPA has had operational leaders in the past, Pisano's role is new in the sense that he will work to streamline and unify the operations of MPAA and MPA.

"I'm trying to bring all of the domestic and international operations together and also have someone who can help manage those operations," Glickman said. "With Bob, I have someone who's actually been in the business. It's a good match and will help the companies and help the MPAA."

Washington-based governmental affairs will continue to be managed by executive VP John Feehery.

Pisano has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years, most recently during a three-year stint as national executive director of SAG. He left that post in March after repeated clashes with opponents who were critical of his initiatives and accomplishments.

A one-time partner in the law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where he specialized in business litigation and entertainment, Pisano later became executive VP at Paramount Pictures, where he also served as general counsel.

Pisano then joined MGM as executive VP in 1993 and was promoted four years later to vice chairman. He held that position until 1999, when he became a consultant for organizations involved in entertainment and sports financing, DVD distribution, Internet video delivery and digital cable programming services.

Pisano was hired as SAG's top staffer in 2001 on the strength of his studio and executive background, which was seen an asset in contract negotiations. It was the first time the union had gone outside of its own ranks to fill the spot.

The relationship between Pisano and union activists in Hollywood grew testy and eventually toxic as he was attacked for his handling of contract negotiations, a proposed merger with AFTRA and other efforts to revamp the union.

Opponents tried to force Pisano to resign during critical contract talks last fall and separately sued him for continuing to serve on the board of DVD rental company Netflix, which they saw as a conflict of interest because Pisano led negotiations on such issues as DVD residuals. The lawsuit was dismissed by the judge; Pisano also was cleared of any conflict by three separate investigations.

Pisano counted the $200 million TV/theatrical contract, which was finalized in January, among his accomplishments, saying it was one of the richest packages in the union's history. He also spent considerable time trying to streamline SAG's operations and shore up its finances, which reached break-even last year after a decade in the red.

Pisano's hand-picked successor, AFTRA national executive director Greg Hessinger, was hired as his replacement.

By accepting Pisano's resignation, the union was forced to pay out the remaining two years on his contract, a sum estimated to be about $1 million.

Pisano continues to serve on the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and on the executive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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