Pierre Cossette will be making Sunday’s Grammy Awards his finale as he heads off to develop a Broadway tuner about Woody Guthrie.
It will be his 35th time overseeing the kudofest, which he says is far tougher to produce than other awards shows.
“During the Oscars they have all of these great films to show and they have the superstar presenters,” Cossette says. “From a physical production point of view the Oscars are very simple. During the Grammys you have 14 to 17 performances.
“Every single time a group is onstage performing another group is backstage setting up with completely different lighting, sound and electronics involved. The Oscars don’t have to deal with that. I am not saying (the Oscars) are not well produced, but from a physical production point of view they are different.”
Cossette, whose favorite Grammy moment was Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond duetting on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” 25 years ago, will hand over the exec producer reins to Ken Ehrlich, who has co-produced the kudosfest since 1980, and his son John, supervising producer since 1992.
Cossette bought the show for $125,000 in 1969, splitting the cost with then partner Burt Sugarman. None of the major nets had any interest in airing the show, so it wasn’t until 1971 that it went on the air. (The Grammys were first handed out in 1958.)
“It was one of the toughest deals I’ve ever been involved in,” Cosette explains in his book “Another Day in Showbiz — One Producer’s Journey.” “I just couldn’t get it off the ground, and the option would expire soon. Finally, I got a glimmer of hope from ABC.”
Cossette convinced Andy Williams to host, acquiescing to the Alphabet web’s demand that either the “Moon River” crooner, Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin host.
ABC eventually dropped the show when it went to Nashville because “they didn’t think the big stars would go (to that city) and they didn’t want a country show,” Cossette explains. CBS prexy Bob Wood picked up the show and has carried it ever since. (After the Nashville show got a 51 share nationally, ABC called Dick Clark and created the American Music Awards.)
“When the Grammys began there were only four major award shows,” Cossette explains. “Now you have got the Billboard Awards, the American Music Awards, etc., and all of them are rock shows. They are all good shows but they share a very different policy from ours, which is to be very eclectic.
“We want young people to watch but we also want the older demographic to come see what the hell it is all of these kids are raving about. But, we also want to give the older crowd what they like — jazz, orchestras, etc. We remain eclectic and that is the secret.”