LIANE HANSEN, host:
Last month the US Supreme Court ruled that movie studios and record labels can sue software companies that allow customers to pirate music and movies online. Fritz Attaway testified on behalf of Hollywood and the music industry. He's executive vice president for government relations and Washington general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America. We spoke to Fritz Attaway for our summer reading series this week.
Attaway splits his summer between Washington and Jamestown, Rhode Island. He chose different books for each locale. Historical fiction is his favorite, so for his DC reading, he selected Jeff Shaara's "Gone for Soldiers." The novel follows Robert E. Lee's exploits during the Mexican-American War before he became a Civil War general. During Attaway's New England getaways, he's been working on "When Hollywood Had a King," Connie Bruck's biography of Hollywood superagent turned producer Lew Wasserman. Wasserman started as an agent at the Music Corporation of America in 1936, then went on to transform it into the film and television studio MCA Universal. He died in June 2002 at the age of 89.
Mr. FRITZ ATTAWAY (Executive Vice President, Government Relations and Washington General Counsel, Motion Picture Association of America): He pretty much was the person that all of the studios looked to for guidance and direction, particularly in the area of politics, which is where I operate here in Washington. And he was just a larger-than-life individual that I wanted to learn more about, particularly his early years, how he got to where he was when I came in contact with him.
HANSEN: Attaway's interests extend beyond historical fiction and the entertainment industry. He's also been trekking through Nepal and Bhutan, where he's expanded his knowledge of Buddhism. As a teen-ager, he read "Third Eye" by T. Lobsang Rampa about a wealthy man who abandoned his worldly possessions to become a Tibetan priest. Attaway's recent Asian travels prompted him to pick up another volume on Buddhism, the "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche.
Mr. ATTAWAY: At one time I thought that Buddhism was a religion that I could identify with. But after reading that book, I've decided that Buddhism is very fatalistic, and I'm not. I believe I have much greater control of my destiny than at least the Buddhist teachings that I've read would suggest. So I've decided that I'm probably not going to embrace Buddhism, but it's a fascinating religion.
HANSEN: Instead Attaway's beliefs run closer to objectivism, which promotes the pursuit of a person's own rational self-interests and focuses on the potential of the individual. He's read almost all of Ayn Rand's novels, which draw from objectivist philosophy. He recently tried re-reading "Atlas Shrugged" but couldn't get through the book's 1,000-plus pages. His favorite Rand work is "Anthem," which is fewer than 300 pages long.
Mr. ATTAWAY: "Anthem" was about a person in a controlled society. Every aspect of life was controlled by the state, and he escapes and strikes out in the world on his own. The symbolism is about individualism, which is Rand's theme in all of her books.
HANSEN: WEEKEND EDITION summer reader Fritz Attaway. He's Washington general counsel and executive vice president for government relations at the Motion Picture Association of America.
For book suggestions and information about our summer reading series, visit our Web site, npr.org.
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