Whitney, Grammy & Emmy
The producers of the Grammy telecast will have many people to thank if the show wins an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Special Class Programs. But they should probably begin their "thank-yous" with one person: Whitney Houston. Houston's shocking death on Feb. 11, barely 24 hours before the Grammys were set to go live, created a huge challenge for the producers: Not just to revamp the show on short notice, but to strike just right the right tone and give the death enough, but not too much, focus.
Host LL Cool J addressed Houston's death right at the top of the show, leading the audience in a prayer. Jennifer Hudson later sang a low-key, intimate version of Houston's signature song, "I Will Always Love You."
The approach seemed to work. The show drew the show's biggest audience since 1984, when a red-hot Michael Jackson became the first artist to win eight Grammys in one night. Houston's death was widely seen as the main reason for the big boost in ratings: People wanted to see how the Grammys would handle something they couldn't possibly have anticipated.
It helped that Grammy producers were able to back up the Houston drama with other headline-making elements, including Adele's first performance following throat surgery and Paul McCartney's performance of a prized medley from Abbey Road.
Members of the TV Academy were also impressed with the Grammy show. The show received six Emmy nominations last week, which set a new record for the Grammys. Moreover, this is only the fourth time the Grammy telecast has been nominated for an Emmy in a program category. The show was previously nominated in a program category in 1977, 1988 and 2011.
Houston was closely associated with the Grammys. She opened the show twice, in 1989 with "One Moment In Time" and in 1994 with "I Will Always Love You." She won six awards, including Record of the Year (for "I Will Always Love You") and Album of the Year (for The Bodyguard).