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CLARK SAYS GRAMMYS STIFLE VOICES.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

Pop music icon Dick Clark filed a $10 million lawsuit Wednesday claiming Grammy Awards chief Michael Greene threatened to ``blacklist'' Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and other top stars if they performed on a competing awards show.

Clark, producer of the ``American Music Awards,'' accused the Recording Academy president of compelling Jackson to ditch a Jan. 9 Music Awards gig to avoid being barred from the Grammys on Feb. 27.

The ``blacklist policy,'' according to Clark's complaint, has harmed the music industry by preventing Jackson, Spears and other artists from performing in both high-profile awards shows.

``I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,'' a teary-eyed Clark said repeatedly during a news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel. ``This policy penalizes the artists and punishes music lovers in the process.''

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences issued a statement denying wrongdoing and defending ``legitimate business practices'' it says gives Grammy Award audiences exclusive entertainment.

An academy statement called Clark's accusations surprising and said: ``This suit appears to be nothing more than a last-minute stunt, created in hopes of driving some attention to the plaintiff's show by attacking the Grammys.''

Clark's suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accused Greene and 10 unnamed defendants of unfair competition and interfering with contracts and prospective business relations.

The suit seeks $10 million in damages and an end to restrictive business practices.

The academy, in its statement, denied wrongdoing and defended ``legitimate business practices'' it says give Grammy Award audiences exclusive entertainment.

Jackson's company, MJJ Productions, his publicist, Susan Blond Inc., and his manager, Trudi Green, did not respond to requests for comment.

Clark said he didn't sue the academy because he didn't think most of its members agreed with Greene's policies, which Greene once promised to curtail.

``Mr. Greene has caused a lot of pain and a lot of stress,'' said Clark, 71, of Malibu, famous for his perennial boyish looks and for producing such shows as ``American Bandstand'' and ``New Year's Rockin' Eve.''

``I've known Michael Jackson since he was a kid, we've been very close friends over the years. To have another party interfere with that friendship makes me very, very angry.''

The ``American Music Awards'' special has let fans determine top musical performances since 1974. Winners of the Grammys, considered by some the more prestigious event, are selected by the academy.

Clark said such artists as Sean ``Puffy'' Combs and Toni Braxton have been banned from Grammy performances because of prior appearances on his show.

Two years ago, Spears was billed to appear on an elaborate Music Awards set - only to pull out at the 11th hour after a warning from Greene that she'd lose her Grammy spot if she also went with Clark, according to the suit.

And last month, Jackson agreed to accept an ``Artist of the Century'' award and perform on Clark's show, the suit alleged. Two weeks later, Jackson pulled out for the same reason.

``It's out of hand,'' said Clark, wearing a button-down Oxford shirt and blue blazer. ``I have bitten my tongue for years, I have had it, I'm fed up.''

Greene has been lauded for turning the nonprofit Grammy Awards into a global TV spectacle for 1.5 billion viewers and telecast rights worth $20 million.

But Greene's star fell with academy trustees last month when they agreed to a $650,000 settlement offer to former employee Jill Geimer, who had accused the 52-year-old Grammy head of sexual assault and battery.

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2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- ran in Valley edition only) Dick Clark said ``I'm mad as hell'' in a teary-eyed news conference Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

(2 -- ran in Glen/Bur edition only) Dick Clark said ``I'm mad as hell'' in a teary-eyed news conference Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 20, 2001
Words:647
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