Saturday, June 15, 2024

Turmoil at the Grammy Awards as CEO Deborah Dugan Is Ousted After Six Months, A Week Before Show


Turmoil at the Grammys and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: they’ve ousted new CEO Deborah Dugan, who began work on August 1, 2019.

The LA Times reports there’s an investigation after a female member of the board sounded an alarm about Dugan’s inappropriate behavior.

The Grammys are a week from Sunday. In Dugan’s place will step Harvey Mason, Jr., who’s a long time producer and musician. He’s an executive producer of the upcoming Aretha Franklin movie.

“In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the Board has placed Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan on administrative leave, effective immediately,” according to a statement from the academy provided to The Times. “The Board has also retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations.”

The Times says Dugan didn’t fit in and I concur. By the end of the year almost no one in the record business had met her or had any idea what was going on in the NARAS offices. In late December I asked to meet her and she agreed. But last week when I tried to see her, she sent an email that just read: “Impossible!”

Dugan’s predecessor, Neil Portnow, ran NARAS for 20 years calmly and coolly. He was admired and respected and handled the job with real elegance. His one mistake was an off hand comment that female musicians should “step up” when he was criticized two years ago for not having enough female representation at the Grammys. This was right after the #Metoo scandals broke, and everyone was acting crazy. They should have left Neil alone. It’s not the NARAS CEO’s mandate to bring in female musicians.

What’s next? Maybe whatever was obviously going sour at NARAS will be righted. It all to be fixed ASAP.

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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