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Neil Portnow Talks 60th GRAMMY Awards Return To New York
In a new interview with Melinda Newman for Billboard, Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow discussed several factors involved with the GRAMMY telecast's return to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 15 years on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018.
"From the time [the 45th GRAMMY Awards ended in 2003, I was always thinking about when would it be good and appropriate for us to go back to New York," said Portnow. "Not only because that's what we'd done [before], but if you think of half of the Academy's membership being east of the Mississippi, it always made sense that we'd figure out how to go back."
Though the Academy's membership includes representation in Chapter cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami, taking the GRAMMY Awards telecast back east has financial implications, not only relating to the telecast but the Academy's slate of GRAMMY Week events.
"The reality is that it's a major undertaking in many respects," said Portnow. "One is that we're West Coast-based so it means moving essentially a majority or good portion [of the staff] back east. No. 2 is the weather. No. 3 is reinventing not just the GRAMMY telecast, but the whole week we've developed. … It's way more expensive to do anything in New York."
The Academy President/CEO also detailed the role New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his office played in the show's return to the Big Apple, including Julie Menin, the commissioner of the mayor's office of media and entertainment.
"When we got into exploring doing this in reality … different people [assisted] and Julie had been appointed to this newly created position having to do with the arts and bringing culture to New York, so we have conversations about how they might be helpful in dealing with issues and concerns and challenges for us so that we could cross the finish line," he said. "They pulled together some folks they identified as potentially helpful. We had several meetings to discuss some of the ideas and so on and so forth. They also play another role, which is logistically to pull all of this off there are a variety of things that have to happen in the city that are beyond what have to happen in L.A. ..."
Though the GRAMMY Awards are slated to return to Los Angeles in 2019, Portnow says that the organization's focus is the milestone 60th telecast.
"Even as we speak there are things that are left to be done, ironed out, figured out," said Portnow. "In terms of going back [to Los Angeles], I think that's a topic for the other side of this adventure. …"