Forget Jennifer Lopez’ cleavage or surprises like “Soy Bomb.” Organizers of the 44th annual Grammy Awards on Thursday promised the top honors in music next Feb. 27 at the Staples Center will be a more secure and “meaningful” event following the Sept. 11 attacks, which have shaken the nation and disrupted other award shows like television’s Emmys.
“Everything has changed. I think everyone is going to be concerned about a large aggregation of people being shown to many countries around the world,” Grammys chief Michael Greene told reporters at a news conference to announce the music industry award show’s date and venue.
Organizers said about $1 million has been spent to beef up security measures at Staples Center since Sept. 11.
“The screening is going to be very deep into every person involved in the show. People thought Soy Bomb jumped out of the audience, but he was really part of Bob Dylan’s dance troupe,” Greene noted, referring to the jaw-dropper at the 1998 Grammys when a bare-chested dancer with “Soy Bomb” written on his torso crashed the stage during Dylan’s performance.
Greene also said the tone of the show would be less flashy than in the past when it was marked by events such as the appearance of the now-legendary traffic-stopping dress worn by Jennifer Lopez, which was cut well below her navel.
“I think you’ll see a backing away from opulent numbers to more of a concentration on the music. It will be a more meaningful Grammys,” Greene said.
The Grammys have traditionally been held in Los Angeles, but organizers brought them to New York, the corporate home of the music industry, in 1994, 1997 and 1998. A feud then broke out between Greene and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who accused Greene of threatening a city official, which has helped keep the Grammys in Los Angeles ever since.
Greene said on Thursday that while he had not spoken with Giuliani, he and other organizers had considered moving the show back to New York in recent weeks, although they couldn’t find an appropriate venue in the time frame.
PRAISE FOR GIULIANI
Praising Giuliani for doing a “marvelous job” in leading New York since the Sept. 11 attacks by hijackers into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Greene said organizers were now considering running a satellite feed from Manhattan to give the show a New York element.
Greene was joined at the press conference by Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn and Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, which has telecast the Grammys since 1973.
Moonves announced that CBS had extended its contract to broadcast the gala through the year 2006.
Recording artists Mary J. Blige, Dave Koz, A.B. Quintanilla, Shea Seger, and Tyrese also attended the news conference at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
CBS’ Moonves also received an award at the conference from the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission (LASEC) for helping to create a positive image for Los Angeles.
“It’s ironic I’m getting this in conjunction with the Grammys,” Moonves said. Moonves was originally set to receive the award prior to the originally planned Emmys on Sept. 16.
That show was postponed out of respect for the victims of the Sept. 11 attack and rescheduled for Oct. 7. The second date was then cancelled hours before air time, when the U.S. air attacks on Afghanistan began that day.
This week, Emmy organizers have set the awards show a third time – on Nov. 4 at the Shubert Theatre, in the Los Angeles district of Century City.
Another casualty of the attacks has been the second annual Latin Grammys, which were to have taken place in Los Angeles on the evening of Sept. 11 and had to be cancelled at the last minute.
Greene said the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which hosts the Grammys and Latin Grammys, would make an announcement about how winners will be revealed within the week. “It may be simply through press release. The fact is a lot of people (nominees) are afraid to fly in on international flights,” he said.