Who wrote LL Cool J's opening speech? Why didn't Lady Gaga perform? Why so much Sir Paul? We asked Jack Sussman, CBS' executive vice president of specials, music, and live events, to answer some of our nagging queries

By Lynette Rice
Updated February 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST
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Jennifer Hudson was amazing. But why not have a more elaborate tribute to Whitney Houston?
Anything more — a video montage, a medley — would have been over-the-top, Sussman said. ”You don’t want to overdo it. You want to do something…respectful. The control and power and raw emotion in Jennifer’s voice when she got on the telecast, you knew five seconds into it that we all made the right decision.”

Who decided what LL Cool J would say in his opening remarks?
The NCIS: Los Angeles star collaborated with the producers on his speech and the prayer. ”He handled it with class and dignity and was a true emcee.”

Why no Gaga or Skrillex?
Gaga already performed on CBS’ Grammy nomination special that aired Nov. 30. Beyond that, not everybody can come to play on the Staples Center stage. ”You only have so many [performance] spots.”

But then why did some artists, like Paul McCartney, perform twice?
”Paul was on the show twice because he’s Sir Paul friggin’ McCartney. He did a beautiful new song, and then we asked him to come back and close the show and burn the building down. It was incredible.”

NCIS: Los Angeles

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