Kelly McMahon To Succeed Retiring Joan Graves As MPAA Ratings Chief

MPAA Joan Marcus Kelly McMahon
Photos courtesy MPAA

The MPAA has named Kelly McMahon to succeed Joan Graves as chair of the Classification and Rating Administration, the group that assigns film ratings.

Graves, a 77-year-old grandmother of two, retires next year after 30 years with the organization. The MPAA’s corporate counsel, McMahon, will succeed her after a transition.

“I look forward to working with Joan and Kelly to shape the future of the rating system and continue our mission of helping American parents make informed viewing choices for their children,” MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin said in a statement Thursday.

CARA was created by former MPAA president and CEO Jack Valenti 50 years ago this month. This voluntary program provided an alternative to government censorship of movies and was designed first and foremost to be a resource for parents, while simultaneously protecting the First Amendment, the rights of filmmakers, and the creative process.

Graves began her career as a member of the rating board in 1988, and served as administrative director and co-chair before being promoted to chair in 2000. During her tenure, she was instrumental in making changes to improve the ratings, including the addition of descriptors, which provide parents with further information about what caused a film to receive its rating.

Her successor, McMahon, joined the MPAA 11 years ago and currently serves as VP and corporate counsel. She is the legal counsel to CARA, providing guidance about compliance with the CARA rules and the advertising review process. She also oversees the CARA Appeals Board process.

Before joining the MPAA, McMahon was at the Los Angeles-based law firm Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell. She received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and before law school, began her career working at the NFL.

“As a parent of a seven-year-old son, I rely on the ratings and know first-hand how important it is to have useful information about the films my family watches,” McMahon said in a statement.

Marilyn Gordon will continue as vice-chair of CARA and SVP Advertising, leading the team responsible for reviewing all advertising and publicity materials for films rated by CARA.

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