The Recording Academy and production company AEG Ehrlich Ventures gave an audience at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, Calif., on May 30 a peek behind the whirlwind production of the back-to-back staging of the 56th GRAMMY Awards and the GRAMMY/CBS special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY Salute."
The event offered a glimpse into the challenges of the unprecedented efforts by The Academy and its production partners to stage the GRAMMY telecast on Sunday, Jan. 26, followed immediately by the taping of a special paying tribute to the 50-year anniversary of the Beatles' first American TV performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Monday, Jan. 27. The latter show aired on Feb. 9.
The GRAMMY telecast drew an audience of more than 30 million, and two airings of the Beatles special drew a collective audience of more than 20 million.
The panel discussion included the primary production personnel for both shows, including Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich, Director Louis Horvitz, Talent Producer Chantel Saucedo, CBS executive Jack Sussman, and GRAMMY-winning musician and Blue Note Records President Don Was, who served as music director for the Beatles show. In addition, the panel was joined by GRAMMY Awards host LL Cool J, musician/producer Nile Rodgers, who performed with Daft Punk on the 56th GRAMMYs, and Pharrell Williams, who performed on both shows.
Moderated by Los Angeles Times music writer Randy Lewis, the discussion was wide ranging, from the participants’ emotional reactions to seeing former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform together for the first time in decades on both shows, to numerous reflections on Ehrlich's golf cart rides between Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center next door, where the two shows were being staged, in an effort to keep rehearsals for both on track.
Rodgers, Was and Williams performed a short medley at the end of the panel that featured Daft Punk's GRAMMY-winning hit "Get Lucky," a snippet from "Good Times," a hit for Rodgers’ former band Chic, and Williams' Oscar-nominated song "Happy."