Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Recording Academy Scandal Grows: Grammy Org Denies Charges Money Was “Steered Away” from Charity


The Recording Academy, aka NARAS, is disputing accusations from former MusiCares chief Dana Tomarken that the larger group’s Neil Portnow “steered away” funds from the Fleetwood Mac Person of the Year dinner to the money losing 2018 Grammys in New York. This is just a huge mess, and a PR disaster for the Recording Academy following Portnow’s flap this winter over women and their lack of representation at the Grammys and NARAS.

Here’s the Academy’s statement:

While we will not address point by point the letter from Ms. Tomarken, who was recently terminated following a thorough investigation, we respond as follows:

 (1) The decision as to the venue for this year’s Person of the Year event was made after careful consideration of all options, and input from all appropriate individuals. MusiCares’ interests were not sacrificed in favor of the interests of the Recording Academy.

(2) As Ms. Tomarken well knows, neither MusiCares nor the Recording Academy ever intended to reduce, nor will they reduce, the amount of financial support made available to MusiCares clients in need. MusiCares continues to provide the highest level of service to people in need across our music community, as evidenced by the four-star rating it earned, once again, in February from Charity Navigator—the highest rating the independent charity watchdog organization awards. Simply, our commitment and support will not be diminished.

 (3) Ms. Tomarken did not raise the issues relating to alleged “workplace abuse and harassment” until after her employment was terminated. An independent investigation of these allegations was immediately commenced. Based on the outcome of that investigation, appropriate action (if any) will be taken. Both the Recording Academy and MusiCares take all allegations of this kind seriously.

Some of what Tomarken says rings true, particularly the part about Grammy events not going to the Barclays Center. I said last winter that this explained the lavish awards attention to Barclays Center investor and public face Jay Z. In exchange for not getting the Grammy business, it seemed like Jay Z was otherwise feted constantly– by receiving the industry Icon award at Clive Davis’s dinner, and garnering a huge number of nominations that surprised everyone.

More to come….The Academy chiefs are currently at a board meeting in Hawaii (because, you know, NY or LA would have been too dull), debating all these issues…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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