Deborah Dugan Takes Veiled Swipe at Predecessor After Being Ousted as Grammy Boss 10 Days Ahead of Ceremony

Deborah Dugan was sensationally suspended as Grammys boss on Thursday night just five months into the job — and just ten days ahead of the ceremony.

Dugan, the first woman to hold the position of President/CEO of the Recording Academy in its 63 year history, was placed on "administrative leave" following an allegation of "misconduct".

"In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the Board has placed (Dugan) on administrative leave, effective immediately," an official statement read.

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Dugan took charge in August, replacing 17-year Grammy chief Neil Portnow, who in 2018 caused outrage when his infamous response to the #GrammysSoMale controversy was to tell women artists to "step up".

On Friday, Dugan’s attorney Bryan Freedman clearly referenced this when he issued a blistering statement.

"What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told," he told Variety. "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."

According to a New York Times source, the person who filed the complaint against Duggan was a former assistant to Portnow, who then worked temporarily for Duggan.

The assistant accused Dugan of a bullying management style, which contributed to the assistant taking a leave of absence, the source claimed.

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The NYT also claimed that just three weeks ahead of her dismissal, Duggan sent a memo to the head of HR outlining her concerns about the governance and practices of the organization, which led her to believe that "something was seriously amiss at the Academy."

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She highlighted 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.

Among the changes she approved in her brief tenure was, at the recommendation of a task force set up after the #GrammysSoMale 2018 ceremony, an organizational restructuring to address issues of diversity and gender imbalance.

The board consists of four officers and 40 trustees; while the positions are unpaid, the perks are significant.

Sources told Variety the move may have been a "coup" by entrenched Academy members who were not happy about her proposed changes ahead of her first ever awards ceremony.

"She may have been asking questions like ‘Why is the board so large?’ and ‘Why are we spending so much money’ on certain executives and expenses," one said. "There are people who had been there for years who knew they were going to be let go, and who knew they would not get a job that paid as well anywhere else.’

A second asked: "Who are most of the senior executives in the Academy and the board? Older people resistant to change. It was too much change for them, too soon."

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A third added: "I know a lot of the board members couldn’t stand her."

The 62nd Grammy Awards are set to take place on January 26.

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