JOURNAL — TAPE #510, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Russell Bell
In one recent year, the recording academy billed the charity $319,555 for royalties and tickets while contributing $86,922 to the NARAS Foundation. That produced what appears from public records to be a net profit to the academy of more than $232,000 from its own philanthropic enterprise.
The arrangement in which a parent organization—in this case the Santa Monica-based National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences—charges its own charitable arm for the use of its trademark appears to be unusual in the world of nonprofit organizations. It is unique among the three major performing arts academies, including those sponsoring the Oscars and Emmys.
It also comes as a surprise to many contributors to the NARAS Foundation, which finances educational and benefit programs in schools and public places.
Several donors to the foundation told The Times they were unaware that any portion of their tax-deductible contributions went to the foundation’s parent as a licensing fee and they thought they charge was improper.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Tamra Lhota, president of New York City Public-Private Initiative Inc., a non-profit business group that collected about $625,000 over the last year for the Grammy Host Committee, in part for the foundation. “It’s bizarre, but in light of the recent Los Angeles Times articles outlining the meager percentage of donations that actually reach the charity, I can’t say it’s surprising.”
A source close to the committee said Public-Private Initiative Inc. is likely to demand that no funds given to the academy be used for a royalty payment.
Disclosure of the royalty fee is the latest in a series of questions to arise about the finances and management of the recording academy under its chief executive, C. Michael Greene.
Greene declined comment Thursday, but has repeatedly said that neither he nor the organization has done anything wrong.
In earlier articles, The Times has disclosed that another academy charity, MusiCares, has spent less than 10% of its revenue over the last five years on its principle charitable function, disbursements of emergency funds on behalf of ill, unemployed or indigent people in the music industry.
The articles also noted that Greene’s academy salary of $757,000 in 1995-96 placed him among the uppermost rung of non-profit chief executives in the country and that he hawked a recording of his own music to record executives during discussions of Grammy matters.
In the aftermath of disclosures by The Times, there have been these recent developments.
Greene has formally withdrawn the album, for which he had negotiated a $250,000 contract from Mercury Records.
An Atlanta-based member of the academy board of trustees, singer Tamiko Jones, on Thursday called upon Phil Ramone, chairman of the academy, to hire an independent outside firm to investigate the allegations raised in the Times articles.
“If the academy is to be exonerated, an outside—and I stress ‘outside’—and independent investigation is an absolute necessity,” Jones told The Times.
Ramone said the board’s executive committee had hired the auditing firm of Deloitte & Touche to review all relevant issues raised in The Times.
“I expect a report soon,” Ramone said. “If there was any wrongdoing—and I don’t know that there was—it will not be swept under the rug.”
Deloitte has a long-standing business relationship with the academy and its subsidiaries. In 1985-96, for example, the academy and its two charities paid more than $304,000 in accounting fees. John Hazard, an academy lawyer, said he believed the bulk of these—and possibly the entire sum—was paid to Deloitte. A spokesman for the accounting firm declined comment on its fees.
On Tuesday, Greene received a round of applause after a 20-minute speech at a local board of governors meeting at the academy’s Santa Monica headquarters. On Wednesday, the board of governors of the academy’s Nashville chapter decided to wait for a report from the executive committee before taking further action.
The royalty arrangement raises new issues about the relationship between the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and its subsidiary charities. It could not be learned, for example, if the size of the fee was subject to negotiation between the recording academy and the foundation, or whether the value of its trademark and logo—a distinctive representation of a vintage gramophone—was independently appraised. Greene serves both as chief executive of the academy and as the foundation’s unpaid president.
Academy sources told The Times that the idea to impose the licensing fee originally came from Deloitte & Touche, which serves as financial auditor for both the academy and its foundation.
The 18% trademark fee, according to sources within the recording academy, is also charged against revenue due the foundation from the annual CD compilation of Grammy-award nominees’ music. The record, which is produced and distributed on a rotating basis by the six major recording labels, is explicitly marketed to the public as a fund-raising device for the NARAS Foundation. Each copy, for example, bears a label stating that a portion of the album’s proceeds “will be donated to the NARAS Foundation Inc., for music education initiatives.”
Sources told The Times that income from the record is normally paid by that year’s producing label directly to the recording academy. The academy, the sources said, subtracts ‘overhead’ expenses, including the 18% trademark fee, before forwarding the balance to the foundation.
Sources said income from the recording accounts for the bulk of what the academy claims as its annual ‘cash contribution’ to the foundation.
In 1995-96 that sum came to $725,507, according to public tax filings. That same year, however, the academy charged the foundation $357,648 for the trademark and for Grammy telecast tickets to be provided by the foundation to large contributors.
In 1994-95, the recording academy made a contribution of $86,922 to the foundation. But it billed the charity $319,555 for trademark royalties and tickets.
John Hazard, the recording academy’s attorney, characterized its royalty arrangement as ‘common’ among nonprofit entities.
“I have examined a number of such licensing agreements, and I find nothing unreasonable with the academy’s trademark license with the NARAS Foundation,” said Hazard, whose Washington-based law firm represents the academy and hundreds of other nonprofit organizations and foundations. “In fact, I think the Academy’s trademark license arrangement is quite advantageous for the foundation.”
When asked to provide the name of another client with a similar arrangement, however, Hazard declined to do so.
Hazard said he believed that the academy uses the Grammy logo and license deal as part of its sales pitch when trying to raise funds from sponsors. But representatives from several major record companies that have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years to the NARAS Foundation said on Thursday that they had never heard of the 18% logo licensing fee.
The foundation typically raises money from a number of sources, including other charitable entities and corporations wishing to co-sponsor Grammy events.
One such contributor was the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Fund, which was established by music unions to pay musicians to appear at benefit concerts around thee country. The fund collects from record companies a fraction of a cent for every CD sold in the U.S.
The fund contributed $500,000 in 1995 to the foundation to co-sponsor its ‘Grammy Showcase,’ a touring act of little-known rock bands. Of that sum, $75,000 was collected by the recording academy for its royalty.
John Hall, the fund’s trustee, said in an interview with The Times that he understood in advance that the royalty would be charged. “I was not happy with the idea,” Hall said. Nevertheless, he said, he acceded to the academy’s demand because he thought the co-sponsorship would give the trust fund a much-needed publicity boost.
He said in subsequent years the trust fund has sharply cut back its contributions to the NARAS Foundation—to $80,000 in the most recent year—and that it no longer agrees to pay the licensing fee.
Q: So also tonight I posted a new message board message at http://www.artbell.com. The category is “Coast to Coast AM Topics.” The board is entitled “POST (Gripe Nuts) . . . from us flakes!” The first one was posted by Michael Lisanti on February 17th. He said:
Q: Well, these gripes are amusing and I see that Mr. Lisanti has a number of messages posted. I see one of them from March 1st says, explaining the “Kingdom of Ny (Nie?) stuff”: “Jim, it’s Art’s warped sense of humor. He lives in and broadcasts from NYE County. It’s a play on words like from the Bible ‘the kingdom is NIGH’ (near). Kinda makes him creepy like the Anti-christ HUH? (Alriiiight, more conspiracy theory!!!!)”
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Q: I mean these messages are so weird. Following that message is one from Michelle Szymczak saying:
Q: Then there’s one from Marcie Reilly, The Tone of Life Blossoms—whatever that means—who just writes, “I like the opening picture of Art as Indiana Jones better. Yes, I resent changes in the new web look only because I’m lazy.” And so that was posted on March 8th at 1:03 a.m. and mine is dated March 9th at 1:16 a.m. It’s number 31 at this page. So now I’ll read you my bulletin.
While Art mentioned “cellular memory that exists outside of the brain,” it seemed apparent he wasn’t able or willing to consider what I was stating about the heart being the source for this ‘cellular memory’ and not the brain. He mentioned his interview with the transplantee who experienced food cravings and even inexplicably knew the name of the person from whom the heart had come.
I said, “The Egyptians would weigh the heart at the time of death and many other traditions also think that this is where the soul is — but I have another comment too.”
He mentioned the medical study determining people lost up to three-quarters of an ounce at the instant of death. I observed, “Well I sure wouldn’t want to have a heart transplant because then that wouldn’t be me. That’d be somebody else in my body.”
Art responded, “Well I don’t believe that. We’ve done now, of course, many heart transplants and I don’t think we’ve noticed anything of the person from which it came, came to the recipient . . . ” I didn’t have the chance to reply, “Oh yes we have noticed these traits!!!”
Art disconnected me before I could make my second comment — concerning brain transplants. It bugs me how Art cuts off callers whose comments upset the belief system devised by his materialistic ego-self (often these concern religious topics or matters of accepting responsibility for our actions). If Art considered what I was saying or, perhaps, listened again to his interview with the woman who experienced the heart transplant, he would see the evidence for what he was denying.
I think Art doesn’t want to consider the possibility I raised because to do that would again confront him with evidence for reincarnation and God — truths that would compel him to take responsibility as a member of the community of Spirit. God has gently made His presence known to Art yet he seems focused on the fear and not on the Love that is being shared.
Art, remember (as in Tape #18, Side #2 of Testament) you have your own individual plan for salvation mapped out for you and that you are loved and guided by God. Playing the Testament tapes on your show will provide a wonderful awakening for your listeners. I’ve been thinking it might be more effective not to give too much away and let your audience enjoy the surprises as they occur on the tapes.
My second comment that I didn’t have a chance to share Saturday morning concerned the 19th century Mary Jobson ‘poltergeist’ case. Using Mary as a channel comparable to that with Edgar Cayce, God proclaimed, ” . . . YOU ARE MOCKING ME BY WISHING TO SEE THE INTERNAL BRAIN. . . .”
Art, any brain surgeon who listens to Testament Tape #16, Side #1 (when it is broadcast on your show) will change careers. And they’ll be among the many who’ll have us to thank for helping them to greater Spiritual awareness. Have you see “Breaking The Waves” yet? I know you and Ramoma will be horrified by it yet the movie’s ending should convey a certain significance. I, myself, no longer go to movies as these fantasies keep people from focusing on social and environmental problems.
Art, how much longer are you going to make me work so hard to have you understand that God is love?! I don’t want to be an interview guest on your show — just for the tapes to be played on “Coast To Coast A.M.” I’m sure you’ll find me a very understanding and patient collaborator who knows only too well what your fears are. Any foible you have shown I have exhibited to a worse degree — only you haven’t heard those tapes or read those transcripts yet. By the way, some time I have to tell you about discovering the Martian twin peaks while driving on a freeway during an out-of-state excursion (here in the U.S.).
We are through for the present.
Q: It’s Monday morning and, of course, I found some job ads this weekend. God has blessed me with some jobs that I think I actually would enjoy doing and that I have appropriate experiences for. So I’m getting ready to make my calls — not a whole lot but the few that were there I’m excited about. So I called and left my name and number. They’re taking names and numbers so now I have to wait for them to call me back. This is for a part-time permanent job. It says “PART TIME-PERMANENT for mature persons of good character & good writing skills, fluent in English to work at a homeless shelter.” How perfect, right?
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Q: So I just called Carrie about that proofreader position. It’s for a financial company. That’s almost as bad as a law firm. (“SO”) She appreciated the fact that I at least called to cancel. What a load off my shoulders. I would not have enjoyed that job as you well know.
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Q: I have to laugh. In the mail today I received Issues, a messianic Jewish perspective volume 11: 10, with an article on “Bible Codes”; and then also something from Hank Hanegraaff and the Christian Research Institute. There were some extra copies of Entertainment Weekly left out on a table with the return address cut off. Isn’t that nice someone left those there? I took one. There must be something for me to find. (“DDD”)
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Q: So I just filled out my job application here at the funeral park. I’m going to the museum to see what it looks like after filling out my application. I passed “The Duck Pool, Venus De Milo, The Duck Baby, The Little Mermaid” — it’s a very scenic drive up to the museum. And, of course, there are lots of graves everywhere. (reading sign) “Wee Kirk O’ The Heather.” (“TO THE LEFT”) “The Last Supper Window” to the right. I don’t see any phenomena going on. Whoops — where do I go? Left or right here? (“SEE”) I think I go to the right. You don’t want to get lost (“TTT”) in a cemetery necessarily. Little chapel up to the left on the hill — that must be the Wee Kirk O’ The Heather. So now I’m passing something to the left. Let’s see what this is. “Mausoleum.” Oh. I hope I’m not lost.
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Q: So that’s the entrance to “The Last Supper Window.” It’s almost like a vacation.
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Q: I think I personally would want to be cremated. Uh-oh, where do I go? Left or right here? I think I go to the right. Some of the graves have fancy sculptures. I think I’d want to be cremated — didn’t I already say that?
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Q: Well I made a wrong turn somewhere. Yikes. Made a wrong turn somewhere.
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Q: There’s a huge angel to my right. A big black angel.
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Q: Hello — there are some big buildings to my left. That’s a good sign.
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Q: This is “Court of the Christus.” How appropriate. But it’s not what I’m looking for. I didn’t even notice “Everlasting Love.” Oh my God, I’m really lost.
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Q: So I’m going in the wrong direction. I’m going toward “The Freedom Mausoleum, Court Of Freedom, Washington Republic Statues, Declaration of Independence Mosaic and Labyrinth” when I want to go to “The Crucifixion and Resurrection Paintings, David, Mystery of Life and Christus Statues, Church of the Recessional, Museum & Memento Shop, Triumphant Faith Terraces.” Okay.
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Q: I found it. It’s right next to “The Crucifixion” and “The Resurrection.” How appropriate. What a relief of my mind if that’s the metaphor I have to go through. I’m leaving my tape recorder in the car as I go investigate the Museum Shop.
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Q: So my horoscope said today, “You’ll be at right place at crucial moment.” And, sure enough, after going to the museum, the manager of the museum shop sent me next door to see the production of — they have this almost-like a theatrical show where they unveil two different paintings about the crucifixion and the resurrection. These huge paintings are electronically maneuvered behind curtains that open and close, open and close with lights revealing portions of the paintings with voices and biblical history. It was quite an interesting show. So, after hearing that, I definitely think it’s really more of a metaphor. I mean I don’t really know whether or not Jesus said ‘He who hath the most sin delivered me unto you,’ etc. and then on the cross why would he say — why would he think that God abandoned him? I mean he would know better than that. So I don’t know. I think it’s a metaphor. We’re all the sons of God. I couldn’t believe it when they were taunting him and saying, “If you’re the son of God, come down from that cross.” I mean it’s just hard to believe that people would be that terrible. I mean we all should not kill — anyway, it’s amazing to me. I would recommend that to my friends.
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Q: So I would like this job. Just working on weekends and holidays. It was dead. In fact, the manager was having lunch in the lunch room with no one even watching things. I don’t think they do a lot of sales there. There are some interesting things. I’d buy some things there. Some postcards and they have some really interesting originals too from Mexico and Europe. I didn’t really have time to look at everything. They have interesting Washington, D.C. documents too. Coins. It was a very large museum and shop. I told her when I first went in that it was just like the California Heritage Museum. I mean the first priority would be making sure no one takes anything. Anyway — perfect for me. Perfect. She said she’d worked there eleven years and just needed someone to work on weekends because it was just too much — (“CHIN UP”) yes, that would be too much to work every day. So I would be glad to do it. I don’t know how much it pays. (“BUT”) More than I’m making now. So if I get this job and the homeless job that would just be perfect.
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Q: There’s got to be an end to these goddamn polls. I just heard on KFWB that confidence in the government is up. Give me a break. Once they released stupid polls and see the media running with the information no matter how absurd it is — ever since that started happening with Clinton approval ratings, now it’s all you hear is all these encouraging polls. People are sure stupid, aren’t they? Cattle.
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Q: So I’m on my way to the gym. There was a few things that I forgot to take with me to the human resources office so I called back and gave that information. And I still keep thinking about the paintings and the presentation. If God were to have an only son—and, of course, I don’t believe that; I think we all are—obviously, He wouldn’t allow him to be crucified, I don’t think, like that. I think that’s just a metaphor as the channeler channeled.
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Q: As you can see in my case, God has a wonderful sense of humor and cares more about love than anything else. Of course, if I were nailed to a cross, I wouldn’t say, ‘Why have Thou forgotten me’ or ‘forsaken me’ or whatever. I mean I would say all kinds of horrible things when I’m worried about my bank account or whatever but I wouldn’t say anything at that momentous occasion I would hope. Anyway, it’s an interesting thinkpiece. I’m always shocked by the historicality of my experiences. And when I say references to the Messiah — (“IT’S NOT”) no big deal. But when I hear other people refer to the Messiah I think ‘oh my goodness.’ Of course — Mighael, the Angel, is the Messiah. I’m just the human agent or subject. Metaphor.
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Q: I just finished at the gym and I couldn’t help thinking how perfect this job is going to be at the cemetery because after people watch the show about the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they’ll walk into the Museum Shop and guess who they’ll see —