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Grammy Award Producers: No ‘Carpool Karaoke’ But More Comedy as James Corden Takes Over as Host

Tributes to Prince and George Michael are planned, but Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich promises a less somber affair than last year.

Grammy Awards host James Corden


Expect a slightly different kind of Grammy telecast this year, as James Corden takes over as host after five years of LL Cool J.

“There will be more comedy,” said executive producer Ken Ehrlich, who has worked on the show for nearly 40 years. “We’ve carved out some blocks for him.”

Don’t expect to see Corden re-create some of his signature “The Late Late Show” musical bits like “Carpool Karaoke” or “Drop the Mic,” however.

James Corden at Grammy Award rehearsals


“Hosts have learned in the past, to try and implement their own show on to bigger award shows is a mistake,” said “Late Late Show” executive producer Ben Winston, who’s also working on the Grammys. “Therefore it won’t be that.”

But Ehrlich said Corden and Winston are planning a twist on the “Carpool” idea that will fit the Grammy Awards and satisfy fans.

READ MORE: Stephen Colbert Named Host of the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards

“I feel there is an expectation that we do something fun,” Winston said. “I do think it’s important that the music does the talking at the Grammys. When you’re doing the Emmys, Oscars or Golden Globes there’s an expectation for the host to come out and do a bit or a big performance. At the Grammys it has to be about celebrating the music. A show with music at its core and remembering why that’s important. I think that takes the pressure off us slightly and what we’re going to do.”

Winston said Corden has “some big shoes to fill” in replacing LL Cool J as host. “It will be very different,” he said. “LL Cool J is a lot cooler than James Corden.”

Grammy Award rehearsals


On the awards front, the big story of the night will be the showdown between Adele and Beyoncé, both of whom are facing off in the best song, record and album of the year categories. (Beyoncé leads the nominations with nine total.)

But the Grammy telecast is always more about the performances than the trophies. As has become a Grammy staple, special pairings announced for the show include Alicia Keys and Maren Morris; A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson .Paak; Lady Gaga and Metallica; and The Weeknd with Daft Punk. Also, Demi Lovato, Andra Day, Tori Kelly and Little Big Town will pay tribute to the Bee Gees and the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Fever.”

Demi Lovato at Grammy rehearsals


Other performers on the night include Adele, Bruno Mars, Sturgill Simpson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. John Legend and Cynthia Erivo will perform during the Grammys’ In Memoriam segment. Tributes to Prince and George Michael, including unannounced surprise performances, will also run.

“It’s a fine line,” Ehrlich says of spending too much time on deceased performers; he admitted that last year’s show – which took place soon after the deaths of notables including David Bowie and Natalie Cole – was probably a bit too heavy on the tributes. “There are not as many as last year,” he noted.


Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow, Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, James Corden, CBS’ Jack Sussman


As for this politically-charged environment, Ehrlich (who just renewed his deal with the Grammys through 2020) said he’d leave that up to the performers ¬and winners – but that he’s completely in favor of artistic freedom.

“It’s a lot better than someone coming up and just thanking their manager and agent,” he said.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards airs Sunday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. ET, live throughout the country.

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