Variety: Troubles Mount Between Neil Portnow, OVG, MSG, AEG - On And On
Portnow (Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins)

Variety: Troubles Mount Between Neil Portnow, OVG, MSG, AEG – On And On

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) Former MusiCares VP Dana Tomarken has accused chairman/president Neil Portnow of choosing to steer money away from the charity in order to fund a deficit for this year’s Grammy broadcast – but the accusation includes a concern that continues the issues between AEG and the MSG/OVG contingency.

In a Variety exclusive, Tomarken wrote in a letter to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, which is holding its annual meeting this week, that Portnow steered money toward the Grammys and brokered a deal to hold the organization’s annual Person of the Year event at a venue that left the charity with a significant loss for this year’s fundraising efforts. That resulted in a projected $1 million gain this year versus $5 million last year.

Tomarken reportedly wrote an approximately 4,500-word letter. She said she was fired April 16 after 25 years with the Academy for wrongful termination, claiming it was because of a bill for $2,500 for a MusiCares auction item she was late in paying, alongside coworker Dorit Kalev. Tomarken declined to comment to Variety, and Portnow and his associates were not immediately available.

To likely nobody’s surprise, the Grammys were hit with a $6 million to $8 million shortfall after moving the awards event to the East Coast this year from AEG’s Staples Center to NYC rival Madison Square Garden (but according to the Variety article, the early broadcast versus a West Coast live feed was not the factor – rather, such factors as Radio City Music Hall not being configured for MusiCares’ traditional dinner ceremony).

Tomarken claims until last June she was negotiating with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, associated with AEG, to hold the dinner. Madison Square Garden and Radio City are associated with rival Azoff MSG Entertainment.

“I received a call from Irving Azoff. Neil and the Madison Square Garden Company,” Tomarken reportedly said in the letter. “Irving informed me, had early on in NY Grammy negotiations agreed that the Person of the Year tribute would be held at Radio City Music Hall, a Madison Square Garden Company venue. Neither I nor anyone on the MusiCares staff was ever notified of those discussions or agreement, and as a result, we were forced to walk away from a huge benefit to MusiCares: Barclays’ generous financial commitment and their venue.

“The agreement with Radio City Music Hall was at least twice as expensive as the Barclays Center offer,” she reportedly wrote, “and that does not factor in any additional support we might have been able to secure from Barclays sponsors.”

She claims that MusiCares was dropped from a package deal executed by Portnow and Oak View Group (intrinsically tied to Azoff) in an effort to cover the shortfall.

“Oak View had agreed to sell Grammy Week packages that included tickets to the telecast as well as Person of the Year, designed to raise $1.5 million for MusiCares,” she wrote. “However, just before the 2017 Christmas holiday, I discovered … that Neil had subsequently approved dropping MusiCares from the package revenue stream in favor of funding the telecast deficit.”

“Oak View had agreed to sell Grammy Week packages that included tickets to the telecast as well as Person of the Year, designed to raise $1.5 million for MusiCares,” she wrote. “However, just before the 2017 Christmas holiday, I discovered … that Neil had subsequently approved dropping MusiCares from the package revenue stream in favor of funding the telecast deficit.”

h/t Variety

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