By Laura Ferreiro
Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich knows how to get people to do what he wants--he calls in the big guns. As the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were about to begin at the Staples Center on Sunday, Ehrlich called up Justin Timberlake to help him get the noisy crowd to simmer down.
“Everyone, please take your seats!” Timberlake commanded, and the audience complied--but not before loudly cheering for the singer, who was making his first return to the Grammy stage since 2009.
“Justin Timberlake really saved our a** when something happened four years ago,” Ehrlich added, presumably referring to the time Timberlake agreed to perform an additional number at the 2009 Grammys, when Rihanna and Chris Brown cancelled their performances after Brown assaulted her on the eve of the ceremony.
“Sting, take your seat!” Ehrlich added, playfully goading the star who was still mingling. He also thanked host LL Cool J for keeping things running smoothly at last year’s Grammys following Whitney Houston’s sudden death. “We had rough waters last year when we lost Whitney Houston 24 hours before the show. What LL Cool J did for us was amazing,” he said.
The show soon got underway with a lively performance from Taylor Swift, who was later spotted having an animated conversation with “Girls” star and creator Lena Dunham during a commercial break. Dunham had a prime seat next to her boyfriend Jack Antonoff, whose band fun. took home Grammys for Song of the Year and Best New Artist. (Surprisingly, the crowd seemed less than excited when fun. was named Best New Artist, reserving louder cheers for the Lumineers.)
In between performances, Dunham made the rounds with gal pals, sharing laughs with Katy Perry and Kat Dennings, among others. She also listened in on a long chat between her boyfriend and John Mayer--maybe they were talking about a future collaboration?
Ehrlich also did his share of mingling in the midst of his production duties, tracking Beyonce through the crowd for a kiss on the cheek as she was escorted to her seat by her bodyguard. He also made a point of shaking hands with Clive Davis and giving a big hug to Taylor Swift.
The evening’s biggest cheers were reserved for the Bob Marley tribute featuring Sting, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and Marley’s sons Ziggy and Damian Marley, which had Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban dancing in the aisles. Maroon 5’s collaboration with Alicia Keys also got a standing ovation.
Although there weren’t a ton of surprises at this year’s ceremony, Marcus Mumford surprised a few people when he dropped the F-bomb during his acceptance speech when his band Mumford & Sons won Album of the Year. It was bleeped from the telecast when he jokingly complained that they didn’t win last year because Adele won “f***ing everything.”