New film shows how Houston's death changed Grammys
FILE - This Feb. 12, 2012 file photo shows LL Cool J reciting a prayer for the late Whitney Houston at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Host LL Cool J said addressing the Grammy audience at Staples Center after Houston's death was "definitely the most challenging moment I've faced in my career." This and other last-minute changes made to the 54th annual Grammy Awards are chronicled in a new documentary, "A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On," which premiered Monday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Grammy Awards producers learned of Whitney Houston's death less than 24 hours before the live telecast, they scrapped parts of the script, added performances and puzzled over how best to honor the Grammy-winning singer who died unexpectedly at age 48.
Host LL Cool J said that addressing the Grammy audience at the Staples Center after Houston's death was "definitely the most challenging moment I've faced in my career."
He decided to open with a prayer, and producers agreed, though none could recall another network TV event that began as such.
This and other last-minute changes made to the 54th annual Grammy Awards are chronicled in a new documentary, "A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On," which premiered Monday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The screening of the 25-minute documentary and 14-minute highlight reel of past Grammy performances was also a not-so-subtle push for Emmy votes.
"We'd love to have you consider us when you vote," said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammys for the past 32 years. "We've been nominated before and not won."
He added that executives at CBS, which broadcasts the Grammys, suggested Ehrlich's team produce the documentary, which can be seen on the Grammy.com website and at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
Emmy ballots are due at the end of the month.
The documentary, though it deals with show changes made after Houston's death, isn't a downer.
LL Cool J poses at the premiere of the documentary film "A Death In The Family: The Show Must Go On," at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on Monday June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles. The film features rare behind-the-scenes footage from this year's 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Ehrlich said that about an hour before he heard about Houston, he'd experienced a career high: Paul McCartney, who was set to close the show, asked if he might perform a Beatles medley from "Abbey Road," and maybe it could include a guitar jam with the likes of Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh and Bruce Springsteen.
The number came together just before Houston's death.
Ehrlich said the magic of that McCartney moment made him feel "like maybe there is a God."
"God said, I'm going to give this to him, but I'm not going to let him get too cocky," the veteran producer said in an interview before the screening.