When remarks made by Eric Kronfeld, Polygram’s prexy and chief operating officer of its domestic music group made headlines in November, many industry observers felt it signaled the end of his tenure at the conglom.
They were right.
Kronfeld ankled his post Tuesday, with Polygram brass issuing a one-sentence explanation:
“Polygram and Eric Kronfeld have announced that as part of the company restructuring, Mr. Kronfeld has been released from his contract to pursue his own entrepreneurial interests.”
Kronfeld landed in the corporate hot seat when disparaging remarks he made about African-Americans during a deposition were brought to the attention of Polygram chief Alain Levy.
Jackson joins fray
The verbiage touched off a firestorm of controversy which attracted the ire of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and who publicly accused the company of engaging in a pattern of “race and sex exclusion.” The conglom denied there was such a pattern.
The remark, which Kronfeld gave during his deposition in Dru Hill’s lawsuit against Island Records, suggested that virtually all African-Americans had criminal records.
The band had been trying to extricate itself from its recording pact, but eventually settled the dispute and remained on Island’s roster.
But as a result of the comment, Kronfeld, who assumed the prexy/COO post in March 1991, was dismissed from Polygram’s board and replaced by Clarence Avant, chairman of Motown Records.
Polygram chairman Alain Levy met with Jackson after the remarks were made public to allay any concerns and denounce Kronfeld’s remarks, though Levy felt they were made unintentionally and without malice.
Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition later purchased stock in five of the big-six congloms to attend stockholder meetings and “monitor these companies’ diversity programs, if any, and to ensure they’re inclusive of women and minorities.”