NARAS calls suit a 'last-minute publicity stunt'

On the heels of Michael Jackson pulling out from the American Music Awards telecast, Dick Clark Prods. has sued Grammy Awards chieftain Michael Greene to the tune of $10 million, claiming that artists who perform on Clark’s AMA program are blacklisted from appearing on the Grammys.

Greene, CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, has a policy prohibiting artists from appearing on both shows, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court.

In past years, Sean “Puffy” Combs and Toni Braxton could not perform at the Grammys after appearing on Clark’s show, which has honored music artists since 1974. The AMA takes place in January, the Grammys in February, this year on the 27th.

The suit alleges that Britney Spears pulled out of the American Music Awards two years ago after Greene told her she could not appear on the Grammys if she did the show. According to the complaint, Greene said he would terminate the policy when confronted by Clark.

Everyone does it

NARAS, while greatly exaggerating the size of the Grammy kudocast audience, issued a statement that said: “It clearly is the nature of the entertainment business to offer your audience something exclusive. We do nothing outside normal industry business practices. Artists perform on our show because more than 2 billion people watch it.”

Clark intended to have Jackson perform on the Jan. 9 show, but he also reneged after he was informed by Greene that he could not do both shows.

“We feel that Mr. Greene’s policy does not represent the best interests of recording artists, the recording industry, the majority of the Academy’s members or obviously music fans,” Clark said. “This policy penalizes the artists and deprives music lovers in the process.”

Over $10 mil sought

The complaint, filed by Dale Kinsella of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella, seeks damages in excess of $10 million and asserts claims for breach of contract, interference with business relations and unfair competition.

The suit claims that in November, Jackson gave his word to American Music Awards co-producer Larry Klein that he would perform on the show, but last week, Jackson’s manager, Trudi Green, said the singer would not appear because Greene had informed her that Jackson could not perform on both shows.

“Mr. Greene has caused me a lot of pain and a lot of stress,” Clark said. “I’ve known Michael Jackson since he was a kid. … To have another party interfere in that relationship makes me very, very angry.”

NARAS, in its statement, said, “This suit appears to be nothing more than a last-minute publicity stunt, created in hopes of driving some attention to the plaintiff’s show by attacking the Grammys.”

Greene and NARAS have seen their fair share of lawsuits in 2001. They recently offered a settlement to former employee Karen Gruhlke, a certified public accountant who filed a wrongful termination suit while she was in possession of internal documents that her attorneys said pose questions about financial mismanagement at the org.

In October, NARAS’ board of trustees OK’d a $650,000 payment to Grammy exec Jill Geimer, who had threatened to file a sexual harassment and battery lawsuit against Greene.

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