Grammys: Miley Cyrus in, Amy Winehouse -- we'll see... | EW.com

TV | Inside TV

Grammys: Miley Cyrus in, Amy Winehouse -- we'll see...

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Mileycyrusconcert_l
Jack Sussman, CBS’ executive vice president of specials, music, and live events, will neither confirm nor deny the possibility of a Michael Jackson appearance for a special Thriller tribute (fingers crossed!) at this year’s Grammys, but he assures us he doesn’t need the Gloved One to make the 50th Annual Grammy Awards telecast special.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what can we expect?

JACK SUSSMAN: We’ve got great stuff going on. Think about it this way… we’ve got Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, Prince, Rihanna, The Beatles, Miley Cyrus (pictured), John Legend, Fergie, Tina Turner, Beyonce, and Nelly Furtado… and that’s just in the first hour. And there’s going to be some great moments recognizing the historical significance of Sgt. Pepper.

When did you first start worrying that the ongoing writers strike might threaten the show?

I thought about it as soon as it happened with the Golden Globes. It never, ever deterred us from producing the show. We stayed out of it a lot; this wasn’t CBS’ fight. Ultimately, the musicians union and AFTRA were in support of this show. Those are the two major unions. This is the one night a year that the music business has to celebrate. It was like, our business is hurting way more than your business. Don’t hurt us on this one night. Once artists started coming forward – Beyonce, the Foo Fighters –- the music academy had the foundation to build and deliver a show.

How can you pay tribute to 50 years of the Grammys in just three hours?

It will be three and a half hours. It’s not an easy task, putting 10 pounds of potato salad into a 1-pound container. We’ve got to keep the pace moving, celebrate the past, but speak toward the future. Not everything is going to be hard rocking. You can’t drive up the tempo for three and a half hours. But we’re coming up with some great magical moments that only happen on the Grammy Awards.

How late can you make a change to the show before it airs live on Sunday?

You can deal up until Friday, but it can’t be anything monstrous that
requires a tremendous amount of set construction. But changes can be
made right before and even during the show. [At the 1998 Grammys],
Pavarotti called at 8:30 that night to say he couldn’t make it for his 9:30 appearance because he was sick in his hotel. Executive Producer Ken
Ehrlich walked up to Aretha Franklin, who had sung “Nessun Dorma” at a
charity event earlier in the week, and ended up giving one of the
greatest Grammy moments ever.


What’s the latest on Amy Winehouse? Will she show?

Her visa is pending. She received a clean bill of health from the board of doctors in London who examined her Monday [Feb. 4]. She is still living at the rehab facility, but
she left to go through the visa application and medical exam. I’m
hopeful she will be in the building Sunday.


Any musicians you tried to get for the show but couldn’t?

We had wanted to create a great moment for Chris Brown. It was his
kind of year. But he has a throat injury so he’s resting it. He will
come to the show and give out a big award.


Any jazz and classical performances we can look forward to?

Herbie Hancock will perform with Lang Lang, an amazing pianist prodigy from China.


How will you unveil the My Grammy Moment winner?

The Foo Fighters will perform outdoors in the plaza with a bunch of
fans. The band will do a huge performance of “The Pretender,” which will
be an orchestration by John Paul Jones. Three of the orchestra members
will be chosen by viewers. During the first hour of the Grammys, fans
will vote for one to get up and play a solo with the orchestra and Dave
Grohl on vocals.


Any shout-outs to country?

Carrie Underwood will perform near the top of show. Brad Paisley will have an arena moment.


What about the opening number? I know you like to keep that a secret, but… any hints?

It will totally set the tone for the 50th anniversary, one you don’t
want to miss. There will be more than one artist on stage and it
hearkens back to the past.


Any other surprises?

There will be a great moment in gospel music. You don’t see an awful
lot of gospel performers raise the roof. We’ll also pay tribute to the
fathers of rock and roll like John Fogerty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little
Richard.


Are you prepared for a possible Kanye West outburst if he doesn’t win?

It’s live TV. Anything can happen.

How late can you make a change to the show before it airs live on Sunday?
You can deal up until Friday, but it can’t be anything monstrous thatrequires a tremendous amount of set construction. But changes can bemade right before and even during the show. [At the 1998 Grammys],Pavarotti called at 8:30 that night to say he couldn’t make it for his 9:30 appearance because he was sick in his hotel. Executive Producer KenEhrlich walked up to Aretha Franklin, who had sung “Nessun Dorma” at acharity event earlier in the week, and ended up giving one of thegreatest Grammy moments ever.

What’s the latest on Amy Winehouse? Will she show?
Her visa is pending. She received a clean bill of health from the board of doctors in London who examined her Monday [Feb. 4]. She is still living at the rehab facility, butshe left to go through the visa application and medical exam. I’mhopeful she will be in the building Sunday.

Any musicians you tried to get for the show but couldn’t?
We had wanted to create a great moment for Chris Brown. It was hiskind of year. But he has a throat injury so he’s resting it. He willcome to the show and give out a big award.

Any jazz and classical performances we can look forward to?
Herbie Hancock will perform with Lang Lang, an amazing pianist prodigy from China.

How will you unveil the My Grammy Moment winner?
The Foo Fighters will perform outdoors in the plaza with a bunch offans. The band will do a huge performance of “The Pretender,” which willbe an orchestration by John Paul Jones. Three of the orchestra memberswill be chosen by viewers. During the first hour of the Grammys, fanswill vote for one to get up and play a solo with the orchestra and DaveGrohl on vocals.

Any shout-outs to country?
Carrie Underwood will perform near the top of show. Brad Paisley will have an arena moment.

What about the opening number? I know you like to keep that a secret, but… any hints?
It will totally set the tone for the 50th anniversary, one you don’twant to miss. There will be more than one artist on stage and ithearkens back to the past.

Any other surprises?
There will be a great moment in gospel music. You don’t see an awfullot of gospel performers raise the roof. We’ll also pay tribute to thefathers of rock and roll like John Fogerty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and LittleRichard.

Are you prepared for a possible Kanye West outburst if he doesn’t win?
It’s live TV. Anything can happen.