Grammy has a new number one man.
He's Zomba record executive Neil Portnow. He's not signed the contract yet, but the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has announced that Portnow is set to become president of the nonprofit group, filling the void left since April, when the controversial C. Michael Greene resigned.
Greene stepped down immediately after meeting with the Recording Academy's board of trustees, who were investigating allegations of extensive misconduct, including sexual harassment of female employees and allegations that charity funds had been handled inappropriately.
Grammy officials insist Greene was cleared of wrongdoing, but the ex-saxophone player, the beneficiary of a whopping $2 million salary, departed anyway for "unspecified" reasons with (reportedly) an $8 million severance package.
Perhaps wary of the scrutiny accorded his predecessor, Portnow is keeping a low profile. We have no idea how much he will make (his contract is expected to be finalized in a few weeks) or even how old he is (he told the Associated Press he's somewhere between 40 and 60).
What we do know is that Portnow is a friend of Britney. He's currently senior vice president, West Coast, for the giant Zomba Group of Companies, parent to Jive Records, the label Ms. Spears, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys call home.
Portnow inherits an organization that under Greene's stormy 13-year tenure expanded from 14 employees, 3,500 members and $4.9 million in assets to about 120 staffers, 17,000 members and more than $50 million in assets.
Aside from overseeing the Grammys, the Latin Grammys (both in need of a ratings boost) and the MusiCares charity arm of the recording industry, the president's role is, according to Grammy.com, to "serve as a trusted and important industry leader on issues relating to the music industry" and to "develop and manage strategic advocacy positions at the national, state and local levels--both governmental and within the music and related industries."
Doesn't sound nearly as fun as hanging with Britney.
But Portnow obviously likes the work. He's been a volunteer with the Recording Academy for nearly 20 years and recently spent two years as treasurer and secretary to the board of trustees. Prior to joining Zomba's West Coast arm in 1997, he worked in executive capacities at EMI Records, Arista and 20th Century Fox.
Portnow will report to the Academy's trustee board chairman, Garth Fundis. Says Fundis of his new charge: "Neil comes to us with superb credentials and a unique skill set that perfectly matches what we were looking for."
Not to mention that Britney connection.