Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin announced plans for the future leadership of the Classification and Rating Administration, the board of parents that assigns MPAA film ratings. Joan Graves, the current Chair of CARA, plans to retire in 2019 after 30 years of distinguished service to the organization. Rivkin has named Kelly McMahon as Deputy Chair of CARA and Graves’ eventual successor as Chair of CARA.
McMahon will begin as Deputy Chair on January 7, 2019. In her new position, she will administer the day-to-day operations of CARA and participate in the film ratings process. Following a thorough transition, Graves will step down later in 2019, and McMahon will become the CARA Chair.
“Joan’s contributions and dedication to the success and endurance of the MPAA ratings are immeasurable. Our recent celebration of the ratings’ 50th anniversary is a testament to her legacy,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. “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.”
CARA was created by former MPAA President and CEO Jack Valenti and first announced on November 1, 1968. 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. The MPAA highlighted the 50th anniversary earlier this month, which included the release of a report, “G” is for Golden: The MPAA Film Ratings at 50.
Graves began her career at the MPAA 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, Graves 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, and the creation of a filmmaker liaison position to help submitters of films better understand the rating process. Since 1988, CARA has rated more than 21,000 films. Graves estimates she has personally viewed more than 12,500 films while serving in various capacities on the rating board.
“The ratings are part of many American families’ enjoyment of the movies and we work every day to provide consistent and credible information to maintain the trust of parents,” said Graves. “It has been a privilege to lead the CARA organization, and I can think of no one better suited than Kelly to guide the ratings going forward.”
Kelly McMahon has worked at the MPAA for eleven years, and currently serves as Vice President 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 National Football League.
“As a parent of a seven year-old son, I rely on the ratings and know firsthand how important it is to have useful information about the films my family watches,” said McMahon. “Working closely with Joan and the ratings system has provided me with a unique perspective and appreciation for this valued source of information for America’s parents. I am honored to continue the work of Joan Graves and help lead the MPAA ratings.”
Marilyn Gordon will continue as Vice-Chair of CARA and Senior Vice President of Advertising, leading the team responsible for reviewing all advertising and publicity materials for films rated by CARA.