Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Executive forces behind the Grammys today addressed the much-protested issue of last year’s elimination of more than 25% of the awards categories — from 109 to 81. The same question that fueled last year’s controversy was asked at the TCA presentation on this year’s 55th Annual Grammy Awards: While the cut streamlined the TV show, has it lead to an underrepresentation of some musical genres?
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (who appeared on the panel with executive producer Ken Erlich, CBS Entertainment’s executive vice president of specials, music and live events, and returning host/producer LL Cool J) defended the move. Re-evaluating the categories, Portnow said, “hadn’t been done for 50 years,” adding that every genre of music that falls within the eligibility time window “still has a place within our system.” He said that every year the producers will continue to re-evaluate existing categories.
“Great music doesn’t always make great television”, Portnow said, but he stressed the producers’ commitment to keep presenting jazz, Broadway, classical and other forms besides pop music on the broadcast.
It was pointed out before the panel that last year’s Grammy telecast, which occurred the night after Whitney Houston’s death, beat the Academy Awards telecast in the ratings. Erlich said interest in Houston did fuel the ratings but the drama of singer Adele returning after throat surgery and Katie Perry coming back after a well-publicized divorce and superstar appearance of Paul McCartney and others also attracted a large viewership.
Will the Grammys every return to New York? Portnow said “We love New York, I’m actually a New Yorker, my first show, the 45th, was in New York.” He said that in recent years a return has not been considered because Madison Square Garden is under renovation but “each year we will be looking to see if that makes sense.”
Another bi-coastal question: Whether the telecast, shown live at 8 p.m. EST but delayed on the West Coast, will ever be shown live at 5 p.m. on the West Coast, since East Coasters are reporting and tweeting the results in advance of the West Coast broadcast. Erlich and Sussman said no, because information coming from the East Coast helps promote interest on the West Coast, rather than spoiling the surprises. “They have another reason to want to watch,” Sussman said.
In response to a question about whether music competition shows help or hurt the Grammy show, Portnow said that those shows fuel an interest in music, but “There’s no competition to what we do, it’s apples and oranges. I don’t say that immodestly, if you ask the artistic community what really means something, the Grammys are what it’s all about.”