The respected political website Politico reports today that the MPAA is “finds itself in an identity crisis”. In a post-Jack Valenti, post-Dan Glickman world, “the once-influential lobby [is] searching for a direction… While the association goes about its job fighting piracy and rating movies, the lack of a unified voice fuels the perception that it is a shell of its former self… Hollywood elite is now a subset of a series of larger corporate empires, that makes it harder to drive a consensus and more difficult to lead what has always been a fractious group of companies that compete fiercely for everything from scripts to talent.” Politico reports that studios have reduced the amount of money they pay to the MPAA each year — from 2007 to 2008, that funding dropped by about $20 million, according to tax documents — forcing the association to lay off staff and curtail some activities. The group’s lobbying expenditures amounted to $1.6 million in 2010, from more than $2.5 million during the last presidential election.

And the progress of the search for Glickman’s successor doesn’t sound promising. “Among those mentioned for the $1.2 million-a-year job are former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, attorney Antoinette C. Bush, retired Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Kevin Sheekey, former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Insiders say Davis and Dodd don’t really want the job. Dodd wants to write books, while a Davis confidant says that as good as the money is, it doesn’t come up to the amount he makes at the consultancy Deloitte. A source added that Davis didn’t want to work with the “a–holes” at the studios.”

The result is that the MPAA is no longer “one of the premier stops in Washington,” says Politico. “Invites to a sit-down meal in its dining room and a viewing of a first-run movie in its posh screening room were coveted by A-listers from government, industry and the press. The projector still rolls — albeit less frequently — but ethics concerns required changes. The dinner is now a buffet. Movies — such as Black Swan — are still screened, but guests must sit through a policy briefing over issues facing the industry.”