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NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES

MEET THE NEW BOSSES: Industry insiders continue to deliver upbeat reports about the Recording Academy’s new Deborah Dugan-Harvey Mason Jr. administration for its commitment to fixing what needs fixing and keeping what needs keeping. Word is that new chief Dugan has been stirring things up—in a productive way—and shown herself unafraid to exert her power when needed. This is already said to be producing positive results as the Grammy telecast is planned.

At big board meetings in Laguna over the last weekend, insiders report, the process of making the sausage began. That said, most of the systemic changes the new leaders plan to make to the awards process will not be implemented this year; look for the transformation of rules and procedures to begin after the 2020 Grammys. Also, what strategies are they enacting to motivate a wider, more diverse base of creatives to become members?

Meanwhile, artist meetings in advance of the TV show are ongoing with Ken Ehrlich and team, as well as with Mason and team. Will the Secret Nominating Committee (SNC) help boost the TV show’s ratings this year by giving top-tier noms to artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Beyoncé, pulling all available levers to support the best possible lineup for the TV show? Given the proactive stance the new regime has shown so far, that seems entirely possible. Is the new administration blaming the empty chair for past snubs and focusing on healing wounds?

The telecast needs to include superstars who are known to CBS’ adult viewers, of which Swift is a primary example. Will Tay, whose high-profile appearance on November’s American Music Awards show was just announced (she’ll get a special award and perform a medley of her hits) appear on the Grammys as well? In previous years, the AMAs might well have been a dealbreaker for Grammy. But assuming Tay gets some high-profile noms, oddsmakers reckon she’ll be on that stage. We also expect a big look for Gaga and Bradley Cooper, as this is the year A Star Is Born’s album is eligible.

Meanwhile, wonderers wonder what mega-moments Ehrlich and company are planning—particularly ones that pair emerging stars with icons. Whispers have focused on legends like The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Aerosmith and Queen. It’s also expected there will be a K-Pop moment, possibly in tandem with a previous era’s boy-band phenom.

BURNT OFFERINGS: Much dissension in the ranks at WME, with agents particularly displeased in the wake of the aborted IPO at Ari Emanuel’s mega-agency. In the run-up to the planned offering, agents’ salaries were chopped with the promise that a stock-fueled windfall awaited them. It’s said that since the IPO fell apart, and WME lost the chance to raise funding to reduce its enormous debt, those salaries have not been restored to their prior levels. Emanuel himself took $160m out of the company, according to an S-1 filing noted by The Hollywood Reporter—which he’s rumored to have split with longtime partner and Co-CEO Patrick Whitesell—and this news has further chapped the behinds of top agents who agreed to short money with the promise of future megabucks. Among those said to have had these stock options: music agents Marc Geiger, Kirk Sommer, Scott Clayton, Sara Newkirk Simon and Samantha Kirby Yoh. The discord has opened WME up to possible planned poaching of key personnel by rival agencies. Insiders say the powers that be are trying to remedy the situation; such a fix may necessitate a sale of some of the firm’s assets.

BIBLE CLASS: The target date for the migration of SoundScan data into Nielsen connect—the remaining shoe that needed to drop to complete Billboard’s acquisition of SoundScan—has come and gone, with yet another delay. It’s just another excruciating scene from the comedy of errors surrounding the Bible’s chart rules, which were supposed to be overhauled as part of the acquisition. How will the flailing trade pub deal with the bundle issue that has made a mockery of chart tabulation? We won’t know for a while longer. In the meantime, though, you can snag some branded swag at the new Billboard merch store. We hear if you buy a Deanna Brown coffee mug, you get the download codes for the next Power 100.

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EGGNOG!
Ours is mostly bourbon.
MISTLETOE!
Delicious in salads.
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WEED!
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want. for Christmas.
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