On Saturday, February 11, 2012, During the high-profile Grammy Awards weekend, and just 2 hours before Whitney Houston was found dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hills Hilton less than 2 miles away, a large mass of 150+ anti-fur protestors dressed in funeral clothing surrounded the trendy Maxfield boutique located at 8825 Melrose Avenue in the city of West Hollywood, CA 90069.
Organized by Fur Free West Hollywood, which is spear-headed by Animal Alliance’s Ellen Lavinthal, the protest was publicized all over popular social websites including Facebook and Twitter. Lavinthal explained that she was given a personal promise from Maxfield owner Tommy Perse that the fur in his store would be removed early, however shortly after she left, the fur magically re-appeared. Lavinthal stated, “There were five fur coats in there yesterday. They broke their word, so we are here today to show them that we are watching.”
Hit recording artist Fawn commented, “If you’re going to continue to display and sell fur, after you’ve agreed to take it down, don’t lie about it! That shows a lack of integrity and if you lack integrity in your word, then what do the products you sell lack?”
Fawn said, “In this day and age, there are plenty of faux fur alternatives. Wearing real fur is cruel, pure vanity and ethically wrong.”
Agreeing with her, Lavinthal concluded, “We will be back for the Oscars, and every other major entertainment event thereafter until they keep their word.”
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Last Chance For Animals undercover investigator Bryan Monell pointed out, “While Maxfield lied, more animals died,” a sentiment several protestors began to shout “While Maxfield Lies, They Die,” and “Maxfield Lied, They Died.” Other activists bellowed “Boycott Maxfield” and one participant yelled about dogs and cats being skinned alive in China for fur, as people walked by. One of those people happened to be virtuoso guitarist Nils Lofgren, best known for playing with Bruce Springsteen in the E Street Band, Crazy Horse and Grin.
All in all, it was a calm, civil and somber protest with participants wearing long faces, black veils and carrying gruesome signs with photos of animals skinned alive – an unfortunate reminder of what goes on in the fur industry. Animal rights activist Patty Shenker said, “It’s deplorable what is done to these sentient beings, and all for vanity! Only frigid women wear fur!”
A ‘funeral procession’ with protestors completely cloaked in black, holding black signs and wearing black veils traveled up and down the streets frequented by many celebrity clientele such as Mary Kate and Ashley Olson, Madonna, Johnny Depp, Prince, Adam Lambert and Faux-fur friendly Pamela Anderson.
West Hollywood is known for being a “city of compassion” with several historic laws passed, such as the recent decision of West Hollywood becoming the first Fur Free city in the United States (taking effect September 2013), the ban on the declawing of cats, the sale of animals in pet stores, and the distinct classification of pets no longer being “property” but being referred to as “companion animals.”
Among the protestors were Religious leaders Rabbi Jonathan Klein and Michael Mata, a minister with the National Evangelical Latino Organization. Klein and Mata are part of the ‘Faith Action for Animals’ and hope to bring faith and animal rights together for ethical reasons. Klein explained that up until the days of Noah, people were eating a “plant based” diet, quoting one of the 10 commandments, “though shalt not kill.” He continued, “All creation, all life is precious and valuable.”
According to protest co-organizer Ed Buck, when the Fur Free West Hollywood campaign began last year, Maxfield which is known for it’s unusual, eclectic and extravagant merchandise, agreed to remove all fur items from their store, joining other West Hollywood stores that also volunteered to ‘take down early’ such as H, Lorenzo, The Pleasure Chest, and Zadig & Voltaire on Sunset Plaza.
Eleven years old Stella Lavinthal said, “Out of all the stores that agreed to remove their fur early, Maxfield was the only one that said they would and didn’t. What’s up with that? They lied, so we’re here today to let them know that it’s not okay to lie.”
On Wednesday, April 6, 2011 The Recording Academy announced that it has restructured the GRAMMY Categories across all genres and Fields, bringing the total number of Categories to be recognized at the 54th GRAMMY Awards in 2012, to 78 (from 109). All Fields remain the same.
The announcement was made this morning at The Academy’s headquarters by President/CEO Neil Portnow, Academy Board Chair Emeritus and five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam, and Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth. Additionally, a minimum of 40 distinct artist entries will be required in each Category (up from 25). Detailed information on these and other recent changes may be found at www.grammy.com/announcement.
“Every year, we diligently examine our Awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process,” said Portnow. “After careful and extensive review and analysis of all Categories and Fields, it was objectively determined that our GRAMMY Categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music. Our Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its dedication to keeping The Recording Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community.” For 53 years, The Recording Academy has recognized musical excellence with the GRAMMY Awards — the most prestigious and only peer-recognized award in music — and the awards have grown from 28 Categories in 1959, to awards in 109 Categories for the most recent 53rd GRAMMYs. This growth springs from a tradition of honoring specific genres and/or subgenres within a Field, and it has basically been approached one Category at a time without a current overall guiding vision and without consistency across the various genre Fields. In 2009, The Academy initiated a first-ever comprehensive evaluation of its Awards process, which led to a desire for change. A transformation of the entire Awards structure would ensure that all Fields would be treated with parity. Diligent research, careful analysis, and thoughtful discussion of all Fields resulted in an overarching framework and a restructuring of Categories to 78, and ensures that every submission continues to have a home.
In addition to the restructuring of Categories, two rule changes have been established and four Fields have been renamed. It is now expected that each Category shall have at least 40 distinct artist entries, up from 25. If a Category receives between 25 – 39 entries, only three recordings would receive nominations that year. Should there be fewer than 25 entries in a Category, that Category would immediately go on hiatus for the current year — no award given — and entries would be screened into the next most logical Category. If a Category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the Category would be discontinued, and submissions would be entered in the next most appropriate Category.
The second rule change is regarding voting. Previously, voting members were allowed to vote in up to nine genre Fields plus the General Field on the first ballot and eight genre Fields plus the General Field on the second ballot, including every category within each chosen Field. Now, on each ballot, voters may vote in up to 20 Categories in the genre Fields plus the four Categories of the General Field — which includes Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist. Additionally, there are name changes to four Fields: Musical Show is now Musical Theater; the Film/ Television/Other Visual Media Field is now called Music For Visual Media; the Gospel Field has been renamed the Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Field; and the Dance Field has been renamed the Dance/Electronica Field.
The Awards restructuring proposal was presented by The Recording Academy’s Awards & Nominations (A&N) Committee — comprised of elected Academy leaders from across the country representing various genres of the music community — and was voted on and passed by The Academy’s Board of Trustees — made up of musicians, producers, engineers, songwriters, and other music professionals. The A&N Committee spent more than a year reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating the GRAMMY Awards process and Categories with great objectivity and fair-mindedness, before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Trustees for ratification. While at times incredibly challenging for each member of the committee to restructure Categories in their own respective genres, the greater purpose of promoting unity within the music community and ensuring that all Fields be treated with parity outweighed natural inclinations to resist change.
Please visit www.grammy.com/announcement for the following resources and detailed information:
- A Category Comparison Chart (comparing Categories from the 53rd GRAMMYs to the upcoming 54th GRAMMYs)
- An Explanation of Category Restructuring across all genres
- A Category Mapper (an interactive feature that will show where to enter submissions under the new structure)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Upcoming dates and deadlines for the 54th GRAMMY Awards online entry period
About The Recording Academy:
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization’s social networks as a Twitter follower at www.twitter.com/thegrammys, a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/thegrammys, and aYouTube channel subscriber at www.youtube.com/thegrammys.
Video courtesy of The Recording Academy