In anticipation of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday on CBS, EW talked to Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich about the show’s triumphant return to Madison Square Garden in New York, the decision to pay tribute to the victims of gun violence, and what viewers can expect from host James Corden.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel being back in New York?
KEN EHRLICH: It’s exciting. We’ve done a number of shows here over the years, and there’s just an energy that as soon as you walk in, you know you’re in the same old place, which is a good thing. We’ve done the show so often at Staples in Los Angeles, it’s developed its own character for us. But here, there’s history.
Will there be any aerial acts this year? Anything happening up in the air?
I’m planning on making an entrance from the back of the arena! No, no. I’m just trying to be funny. There aren’t on the show this year.
Talk about your plans to honor the victims of last year’s shooting in Las Vegas.
It’s not just the shooting in Las Vegas, it’s really about Manchester too. It’s a segment that’s dedicated to the fans. It’s dedicated to people who love music, who have always felt that it was safe to go someplace to listen to music, a place where we go to be happy and celebrate. We’re the document of record for the music industry. This is all part of the landscape, and we wanted to call attention to the fact that we as artists appreciate the fact that people come to see us and to recognize that this is something that has to stop.
Are you bringing back all the artists who participated in the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas?
No, not all of them. But the three artists that are on the show were all there. They weren’t there the night that it happened, but Eric Church, Brothers Osbourne, and Maren Morris were all there that weekend.
Can you see the #MeToo movement (Kelly Clarkson, Fergie, more stars will wear white roses to support Time’s Up) having a presence at the Grammys?
I think it will. Because of Kesha’s background and her story, it’s kind of woven into the issue of sexual harassment. I did not book her just because of that but because she’s nominated and because the song that she does is a great song. But we expect it to be part of her story. I would be not surprised if in the introduction to her performance and perhaps even in other places in the show, the [movement] is referenced.
You got Elton John coming back. Who are you pairing him with?
He’s performing with Miley Cyrus.
What can we expect from James Corden? He got a little silly last year.
It’s interesting. I thought he was great for us last year. I don’t know that I would characterize him as goofy and silly, but he’s really — he’s a great traffic cop. He really kind of understands what the nature of hosting a show like this is, and I think that we probably all learned a few things from him last year as well. I’m really looking forward to it. There’s some great bits that he has scattered throughout the show. He just brings a great energy to the show, and we are gonna do something that kind of takes a beat from his Carpool Karaoke.
Have you given up on telling them to keep their speeches short?
Yeah. They don’t listen to me, anyway. What I really do is come out to tell them that we are a couple minutes away from the air, so please sit down and stop talking to people who probably aren’t gonna buy your demo, anyway.
I feel like they’d listen to you if you pulled a Pink and flew in over the crowd.
You don’t want to see that.
Sunday’s three-hour show will feature performances by Jon Batiste, Alessia Cara, Cardi B, Childish Gambino, Eric Church, Gary Clark Jr., Daddy Yankee, DJ Khaled, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Little Big Town, Logic, Patti LuPone, and Bruno Mars, among others. Presenters include 18-time Grammy-winner Tony Bennett, along with Dave Chappelle, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Anna Kendrick, Sarah Silverman, and Donnie Wahlberg, among others.
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on both coasts starting at 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS.