BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences denied any wrongdoing Wednesday in a statement issued in response to a lawsuit filed against NARAS President and CEO Michael Greene.
Dick Clark Productions Inc., which produces the American Music Awards, accused Greene of implementing a black list preventing performers from appearing on both the AMA and the Grammies telecasts.
The suit asks for more than $10 million in damages.
"In reference to today's surprising accusations, the Recording Academy stands behind its legitimate business practices 100 percent and absolutely denies any wrongdoing," said the NARAS statement.
Clark appeared visibly upset as he announced details of the lawsuit at a news conference in Beverly Hills.
"Unfortunately, this is what I characterize as a very disturbing announcement I have to make today," said Clark. "In the Academy's name, Mr. Greene has implemented a policy that prohibits musical artists from performing on the Grammy Awards and also performing on the American Music Awards."
Clark said that over the past several years, artists who have wanted to perform on both telecasts -- including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, P. Diddy and Toni Braxton -- "have been precluded from doing so because of this arbitrary and unfair policy."
In papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Clark alleged that Spears withdrew from the American Music Awards show two years ago -- after his production company had announced her performance and built an elaborate set for her -- because Greene told her that she would not be able to appear on the Grammys telecast if she also did the AMA show.
Clark said he spoke to Greene following the incident and that Greene said at the time that the "situation is indeed out of control." He said Greene promised him that "the blacklist policy would be terminated."
However, the suit alleges that as recently as last month, Greene caused Jackson to breach an oral contract with Clark to appear on the upcoming 29th Annual American Music Awards, to perform and to receive an Artist of the Century award. Clark accused Greene of "intentional interference" that will hurt the AMA's TV ratings and diminish the value of the Jan. 9 televised on ABC.
"We feel that Mr. Greene's policy does not represent the best interests of recording artists, the recording industry, the majority of the Academy's members or obviously music fans," said Clark. "This policy penalizes the artists and deprives music lovers in the process. Fans are not allowed to see their favorite artists perform on what Mr. Greene has determined to be competitive programs."
In denying that it has done anything wrong, the Recording Academy said it is "clearly the nature of the entertainment business to offer your audience something exclusive."
According to a statement, the NARAS said artists perform on the Grammys show because "they want to be associated with the excellence for which our award and the telecast stand," and because the show is seen by 2 billion people around the world.
"This suit appears to be nothing more than a last-minute publicity stunt," said the statement, "created in hopes of driving some attention to the plaintiff's show by attacking the Grammy Awards."
Nominations for the 44th Annual Grammy Awards will be announced Jan. 4. The awards will be presented Feb. 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, in ceremonies to be televised on CBS.
Greene is the only defendant named in the suit, but court papers leave open the possibility of naming more defendants by including 10 "Does" -- fictitious names that effectively serve as place holders until other defendants are identified.
Although the suit indicates Jackson breached a contract to appear on the AMA, Clark said he is not taking any legal action against Jackson.
"I've known Michael Jackson since he was a kid," said Clark. "To have another party interfere with that friendship makes me very, very angry. This lawsuit is confined to C. Michael Greene."
Clark said he and Jackson will "stay friends forever, despite this bump in the road."
He said his problem with Greene goes beyond business considerations, and is now personal.
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore," said Clark, borrowing the line made famous by newscaster Howard Beale in the Oscar-winning movie "Network."