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"We do everything we can to maintain the integrity of the process."
——Diane Theriot, NARAS' Sr. VP of Awards
GRAMMY ELIGIBILITY FLAP RAGES
Nominations for Justin Timberlake, the Foo Fighters, TLC, Rod Stewart, Faith Hill Disputed
Looks like Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow’s honeymoon is over.

There is a controversy brewing about the organization’s deadline for Grammy eligibility, which this year included any record released between Oct. 1, 2001, through Sept. 30, 2002.

A record must be available commercially or, according to a Grammy spokesperson, shipped to retailers by that latter date to be eligible.

Among the artists whose eligibility is being questioned are Justin Timberlake, the Foo Fighters, TLC, Rod Stewart, Robin Williams, Johnny Cash and Faith Hill.

While most of the above-released albums didn’t make the eligibility deadline, the artists had individual songs, which, in each case, were commercially available, either in physical copy, online or digitally for Grammy consideration.

Different explanations are being offered for the snafus, while a Grammy spokesman claims that Academy staffers check the label’s paperwork on 15,000 entries a year.

Rod Stewart’s J Records CD, It Had to Be You, which got a nomination for best Traditional Vocal Album, hit record stores Oct. 22, but the label insisted it was shipped and invoiced on Sept. 30, which makes it eligible by Grammy standards.

Grammy PR head Ron Roecker told the N.Y. Daily News, "If the CD was released for Internet sale before the deadline, it qualifies."

Robin Williams Live 2002 on Columbia, nominated for Best Spoken Comedy Record, was released Nov. 19, but Columbia's Larry Jenkins told the N.Y. Daily News it was commercially available online as a digital download Sept. 27, three days before the deadline.

Johnny Cash released his American IV on American/Lost Highway in November, but a vinyl version came out in time to be eligible in the Contemporary Folk Album category.

Faith Hill’s "Cry" single is up for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, even though her album didn’t come out until Oct. 15, though Towerrecords.com lists a "Cry" CD single with a Sept. 30 release date.

As for Timberlake, his collaboration with Clipse, "Like I Love You," nominated for Best Rap/Song Collaboration, was available as a 12" vinyl single on Sept. 17, according to Towerrecords.com, which makes it eligible.

The org's Sr. VP of Awards Diane Theriot explains: "We completely have to rely on the accuracy of the information we receive from the labels. We have screening committees across the country in October, where, if anyone has any questions, we can verify the data."

As for the availability of titles online before they hit stores, Theriot says: "The situation will be brought up for discussion. If we need to make any changes, then we will do so. We appreciate these stories in the press because the record labels who make these entries must realize they have to level with us. We do everything we can to maintain the integrity of the process."

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