Memo to members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: Enough of your Oscars and Tonys snobbery! It's time that TV's top award finally gave a hug to music's top televised event – just when it needs it most.
This year the Grammy production faced its most daunting and tragic test yet when it had to respond to late-breaking news that Whitney Houston died one day before the show. Hollywood's most complex and technically challenging awardscast suddenly had to be ripped up and retooled to include a fitting tribute to a fallen Grammy queen who had just arrived in town to join the festivities. The result was one of the reigning Grammy shows in TV history as host LL Cool J launched the event with a prayer and Jennifer Hudson set viewers' spirits aloft with an inspiring rendition of "I Will Always Love You," a tune that had won Whitney the Grammy for Best Record of the Year in 1994. (See photo.)
It's odd that the Grammys have never won an Emmy for best program. It's won many Emmys in those lower tech categories for sound mixing, lighting and art direction. It even won an Emmy for Whitney Houston's performance at the 1986 Grammys, but it's never been voted best program in the weird categories where it's placed – like, most recently, Best Special Class Program. Worse, it is seldom ever nominated. Instead, the Oscars and Tonys take turns winning that Emmy, providing further evidence of the elitism and snobbery that plagues all Emmy voting.
The Grammys, let's face it, are anti-snob, anti-elitist. They're the annual jamboree of the maverick music biz that celebrates rascals and hooligans who shriek f-bombs while wearing torn t-shirts and proud sneers. But the Grammys are, by far, the most complex Hollywood award show, juggling more than 20 music acts on three stages in a few hours. Because those performances tend to be big and ambitious, the Grammys thus include more artistic content than the Oscars and Tony telecasts.
In our video chat, Grammycast producer Ken Ehrlich tells Gold Derby, "A lot of people who work on the Grammys also work on the Emmys, the Oscars and the Tonys and every one to a person tells me that the most difficult show that presents the greatest challenge is by far the Grammys. It's more complicated. It has more layers. It doesn't mean that it's better, but it does mean that it has a high level of difficulty. If Emmy voters are voting on achievement, you would think they would factor that in to a great extent."
On Monday night, Erhlich and other Grammy chiefs will take the stage at the TV academy to show a documentary produced by Erhlich – "A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On" – that reveals what happened behind the scenes as the revamped Grammy show came together. After it debuts to a roomful of Emmy voters, it will unspool on Grammy.com. That means that, if Emmy voters still fail to nominate and award this year's Grammycast, the documentary will be eligible to win an Emmy in the TV academy's new interactive categories.
Memo to Ken Ehrlich: Don't forget to officially enter "A Death in the Family" in that Emmy competition.
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