Grammy performances to celebrate past, present


Longtime Grammy Awards telecast producer Ken Ehrlich likes to focus on "things you won't see elsewhere" at the annual show. And he hopes Sunday is no exception.

Ehrlich, who's produced all but two of the ceremonies since 1980 -- and recently published a memoir, "At the Grammys!: Behind the Scenes at Music's Biggest Night" (Hal Leonard) -- tells that he's excited about several of the special segments for this year's show, which celebrates the Grammys' 50th anniversary. Chief among them is a Beatles segment that will incorporate the cast of Cirque du Soleil's "LOVE" show and performances of "A Day in the Life" and "Across the Universe."

"For 45 of our 50 years, is there any other single group that's had an impact on modern music more than the Beatles," says Ehrlich, "including this year, where there are a number of nominations for music written by Lennon-McCartney. There's no way two songs can represent the output of the Beatles, but we think it's gonna be a gorgeous segment that probably means a little more on our 50th anniversary."

Ehrlich says Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia plan to attend the Grammys. Paul McCartney is not expected.

The telecast will not spend too much time focusing on the Grammy's 50th anniversary, according to Ehrlich. The November special "My Night at the Grammys" was intended to celebrate the show's past, he says, and this year's slogan is "The Next 50 are Here."

But another segment, with Herbie Hancock joining Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang for a performance of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," is intended to highlight both the past and the future, Ehrlich says. "The idea is this may be our 50th, but music didn't start with the Grammys, and it's not going to end when we go off the air," he explains. "It's going to be amazing. The two of them are very excited about this."

Ehrlich is also looking forward to Beyonce's duet with Tina Turner, the Time reunion with Rihanna, the gospel revue and the Foo Fighters' segment that will be staged on a plaza outside Los Angeles' Staples Center in front of 2,000 fans.

The 50th annual Grammy Awards will be televised live by CBS.