Greene's 'artistic patriotism' got the best of unhappy CBS

March 04, 1995|By Richard Huff | Richard Huff,New York Daily News

It was CBS vs. Michael Greene at the Grammys Wednesday night. Michael Greene won, and CBS was not happy about it.

Mr. Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, spent some five minutes during the music-awards telecast to urge viewers to call their congressional representatives to voice support for continued government funding for the arts.

The speech capped a day of disagreement and fruitless discussion between Mr. Greene and CBS, which told him to can the sermon. Not only that, it even went so far as to remove the speech from the TelePrompTer.

He pushed on anyway.

Thursday, CBS said it regretted the incident and vowed to work with NARAS to see that such an incident won't happened again.

During the extended speech, Mr. Greene lashed out at talk of funding cuts for the arts and used the time to unveil a March 14 National Call-In Day for Arts and Culture. He asked viewers to call an 800 number that would result in letters being sent to their representatives in Washington.

"We regret that the speech violated our policy," said a CBS spokeswoman. "We do not take advocacy positions on controversial issues."

Mr. Greene said the two sides argued over the issue all day Wednesday.

"CBS did what they could. They took [the phone number] off the super [screen] and [the speech] off the TelePrompTer. But in a momentary lapse of artistic patriotism, it came out of my mouth."

Mr. Greene said he felt it was his "institutional charge" as head of NARAS to make the speech. "I regret the fact that our corporate charge came into conflict with CBS' standards and practices," Mr. Greene said.

CBS executives made it clear to him after he left the stage that they were very unhappy with his decision to go against them, he said.

According to Mr. Greene, some 30,000 calls were made to the 800 number and, as a result, 15,000 telegrams were sent to congressional members.

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