LL Cool J will return as Grammys host, and revisits last year’s tribute to Whitney Houston. In addition to hosting “The 55th Annual Grammy Awards” at 7 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 10), he will also be at the center of a retrospective special about last year’s Emmy broadcast, “The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family,” airing Saturday (Feb.9) at 8 p.m.
LL Cool J hosted in 2012, too - which will be remembered for airing the immediate wake of Whitney Houston’s death - opening up the show with a prayer.
“When Whitney passed the night before, I was going over material that had already been ... finalized,” he said at the Winter TV Tour in Hollywood. “And, obviously, the first thing that came to mind was I felt for Whitney and her family. After that, I immediately called Ken (Ehrlich, the show’s producer) and just started asking questions. We were going back and forth and just trying to figure out what we were going to do, how we were going to address this thing, because the difficult balance that we had to strike was giving all of these artists, all of these amazing artists, their just due on that day. They were nominated. They were scheduled to perform. They needed to have a great night, but at the same time, we wanted to show or pay homage to Whitney’s legacy and what she’s contributed to the music world. So that was the fine line.
“You have a guy like Bruno Mars. He’s about to perform. You know, Bruno doesn’t want to perform at a (memorial service). But at the same time, I have to show respect and love and honor to Whitney and her fans. So that was the thing I was thinking about.
“As far as the prayer is concerned, it was something I mulled over at night and thought about and said, ‘Do you know what? There’s an elephant in the room, and the only way that I can address this elephant in the room is through prayer. I don’t have the personal wisdom or creativity to tell millions of people what to feel right now.’ So I called Ken up. Ken mulled it over, and he called me back and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And we did it, and I’m grateful that we did it.”
Ehrlich, who has produced the Grammys since 1980, said he was glad he had LL Cool J, a Grammy-winning rapper and star of the CBS drama “NCIS Los Angeles,” in the host’s slot that night.
“The real hero of last year’s show was LL,” Ehrlich said. “Honestly, I don’t think there’s anyone else that could have not only handled the situation on camera the way he did, but been such a strong presence behind the scenes leading up to the show the way he was. I’m not sure what we would have done. We’d done the show without a host for a number of years. I think that’s the germane point. And we were fine without a host for number of years.
“There’s no doubt in my mind -- it’s unequivocal -- we would not have gotten through the show the way we did without him there to get us through it.”