There’s still more to stay about Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, aka the Television Event of the Year, and check here if you missed my last post of yesterday on how Harry turned his cameo into a leading role, but for now, let’s talk about the television event of next weekend: the Grammys, and we have some updates, which kinda got buried on Sunday, like everything else, including the Critics Choice Awards.
The Grammys are airing on CBS though, same network as the Harry and Meghan interview, so they’re looking for back-to-back ratings wins. Harry and Meghan’s Oprah special brought in 17.1 million viewers in the United States alone, a HUGE number. A bigger number than the Emmys and the Globes combined, “the biggest non-sports broadcast on network TV since last year’s Oscars”. This is not insignificant considering, well, we rarely all watch the same thing at the same time anymore. But Harry and Meghan became the closest we’ve come to monoculture in a while. Even sporting event ratings are going down, especially during the pandemic. And we’re not just talking about America. In the UK, the special averaged 11.3 million viewers, making it “the biggest TV show of the year outside of the news”. So when I say that this was the Television Event of the Year… it really, really is.
There’s no way the Grammys will see the same results, and they know it. In an interview with Variety, the show’s executive producer Ben Winston is already talking about how ratings will be down, or at least in the conventional sense. There is value, as we know, more and more, in the digital audience.
“We all know that television is changing, and I think [the Grammys’] streaming numbers, digital engagement and viewing online will be up, and those eyes matter to me just as much as the demo of the network.”
But of course it all depends on what the show actually is. The Grammys were originally supposed to happen in January, postponed because of the pandemic. In that time, unlike the sh-t show that was the Golden Globes, Ben Winston and his team have explored all kinds of options, and will now produce a show that takes place in one venue, on five stages, with performers and presenters performing for each other from those stages, and crew in the middle transitioning artists in and out. It sounds like all performances will take place on those stages but there are some that will be pre-recorded.
“Winston declined to reveal how many performances were pre-recorded — “You’re going to have to work out on the night what is and what isn’t live” — but, in an effort to sustain a sense of community, all of them took place at the convention center.”
One of the conditions for the artists is that even if their performances are pre-taped, they couldn’t send in a video of themselves, they had to actually shoot at the Grammys venue. Co-executive producer Raj Kapoor explains:
“One of our mandates was that [performers] have to come to us and be part of our team and film in L.A.,” Kapoor says. “We’re not interested in doing a show that is disconnected. There’s a physical presence to it, of people performing live for the camera and being in a single location. Other shows may have used music videos and virtual reality and stuff, but ours is actually based in Los Angeles, where we usually celebrate the Grammys. It may be done in a different way, but it definitely feels like people are coming together to make this show.”
Great. Really good. Of course it’s been hard to do things the way they used to be done. But also, it doesn’t mean there can’t be creativity – and the Grammys can afford to be creative, what with that budget. That didn’t seem to be of interest to the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when they put on their lazy ass show. The Grammys, at least, are trying. And that’s what I appreciate. They’re TRYING. They’re trying to produce a special show, and safely. And it might not work. It might end up being awkward, there may be glitches, things may not be smooth. For me, that’s OK. Because it’s something different. And I’m actually into the idea of artists being fans for other artists. I’m curious to see if they’ll be able to make it like a big-time jam session, with artists singing along to each other’s work. Confirmed performers include:
In an interview with Rolling Stone though, Ben Winston did say that there are still concerns to work out.
“There’s one artist that may, in the end, not be able to make it here due to the rules of the country they’re currently in. There’s one immigration issue that we’ve got left.”
I mean my mind, obviously, immediately goes to BTS. Today is Suga’s birthday and he did a VLive to celebrate with fans – from what looked like their headquarters in Seoul. So if they’re going to the Grammys, they haven't left yet. Did they already go to LA to shoot their performance? Or will they be heading there later this week? Again, as noted above, some performances will be pre-records but show producers are saying every performance has to happen at the Grammys venue, so the band will have had to have been there already or will actually be there on the day. The challenge for the show is to make it as seamless as possible; this is what they meant when they said viewers would have to figure out which performances are live and which aren’t. That’s another part of the fun, especially for TV nerds who work in the business, to try and see how they stitch it all together. And for the fans to pick out which artists the cameras cut to during other artists’ performances to prove that they’re actually there. I miss live celebrity cutaways! So that’ll be another draw, hopefully, during the show. And, well, you know who I’ll be paying extra attention to – specifically which seven people I’ll be watching out for.
Yours in gossip,