Ken Ehrlich: Come together, Emmy voters, with Grammys and the Beatles

The name of veteran awards show producer Ken Ehrlich (Grammys, Emmys, MTV Movie Awards) is on the Emmy ballot twice right now – as producer of the Grammys (up for Best Special Class Program) and “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A Grammy Salute” (Best Variety Special).

Pulling off both productions was a “daredevil” task, Ehrlich notes in our webcam chat below, because they were shot over two days. The Grammys aired live on Jan. 26. The Beatles show was taped one day later, then aired on Feb. 9. The two shows featured many of the same music artists at adjacent locations — Staples and Conventions Centers. “I had golf carts running Keith Urban and other stars back and forth between them,” Ehrlich recalls. “If we were in the era of silent movies, this would’ve made the greatest black and white, fast-speed movie.

“CBS wanted the Beatles show to air 50 years to the day and the hour and the minute that the Beatles were on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1964,” Ehrlich says. “That gave us a very short window and we knew that we needed to tape that show. So with all of the people who were coming into town to do the Grammys, we figured, what the hell? Let’s just go ahead. And, oh, by the way, let’s add in one more little degree of difficulty. You’ve got to do the Grammys two weeks earlier than you normally do because of the Winter Olympics. It was a double hit, but I’ve got a great group of people and everybody pulled together.”

Before the show could be staged, however, four people had to pull together to give their approval, which they had withheld from previous attempts to do a similar reunion show: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. “The biggest hurdle of the Beatles show was getting them to do it,” Ehrlich admits. Below, in our video chat, he explains how he got the magic OK.

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Ehrlich also addresses a delicate Grammy issue during this Emmy voting season: how poorly his music kudocast has performed at TV’s top award through the years. While the Grammy telecast has won lots of crafts Emmys, it’s never won a Best Program award in any of the weird categories where it’s been placed and it’s seldom been nominated. By contrast, much more snooty award shows like the Tonys and Oscars have won zabillions of those Emmys. Why? Watch our chat below for my theory and to hear Ehrlich’s, too. Bottom line: Hey, Emmy voters – isn’t it time to get hip?


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