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DEBORAH, WE HARDLY
KNEW YE

The sudden, shocking exit of newly installed Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan on 1/16, just 10 days before the show, raises myriad questions. Harvey Mason Jr., announcing that he’d been named Interim President/CEO, told Academy members, “The Board of Trustees felt this action to be necessary in light of serious concerns that recently came to their attention,” but declined to elaborate, citing “employee privacy” pending an investigation. Apart from the obvious and as-yet-unanswered question of what exactly prompted Dugan’s ouster, why didn’t the Academy wait until after Music’s Biggest Night, to protect the show? How will the artists who are booked to perform react to this?

Variety cited insiders who described Dugan’s removal as “a ‘coup’: a move by entrenched Academy veterans to discredit and remove Dugan, who came in promising significant changes to the organization, before she could establish herself with a successful first show.” The New York Times described a memo from her outlining “voting irregularities, financial mismanagement, ‘exorbitant and unnecessary’ legal bills and conflicts of interest involving members of the academy’s board, executive committee and outside lawyers.” She was also said to be exploring ways to implement certain key recommendations from Tina Tchen’s report. Dugan’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, told  the Times ,“What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told. When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”

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