Grammy Awards Producer Welcomes Political Passion in Acceptance Speeches

Grammys 2014
Courtesy of YouTube

In a fraught moment of political protest across the country, the live mic at televised award shows has become a potent weapon.

As such, Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich has a message for those who will take the stage on Sunday’s ceremony: Bring it on.

Ehrlich has no reservations about political messages or anti-President Trump statements flying during CBS’ three and a half hour Grammycast. Artists expressing passionate opinions about real-life issues are the stuff of memorable moments, he said.

“One of the tenets of our show is artistic freedom, and over the years we’ve shown we do believe in it,” Ehrlich told Variety. “How many more times do we need to hear ‘I’d like to thank my publicist, my agent, my wife and kids.’ The great acceptance speeches are ones that have a point of view and are more personal.”

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The only guidelines on speech that Ehrlich has to keep an eye (and ear) on is profanity, given the potential for CBS to be hit with FCC fines if F-bombs fly before 10 p.m. But almost everything else is fair game.

“One of the things I’ve learned from working with artists for 40 years is that they are deep-thinking, vital individuals who have interests that cover a broad cover a broad spectrum of subjects and passions,” he said. “We should certainly allow for it on the broadcast.”

Ehrlich notes that the Grammy Awards as an institution has addressed issues of social justice and equality on the telecast in recent years.

In 2014, rapper Macklemore was given a big showcase for his plea to end homophobia and misogny in hip-hop. The same telecast featured en masse weddings of 33 gay and straight couples to make a statement about same-sex marriage. The following year, the Grammycast focused on the problem of rape on college campuses, giving a rape survivor chance to address the audience, followed by a video from President Obama and a performance by Katy Perry.

Ehrlich, who is in his 37th year of producing the Grammys and just extended his deal through 2020, emphasized that those segments would not have happened without the support of the Recording Academy, notably from president Neil Portnow, and the CBS team led by specials and event programming czar Jack Sussman. The high-wire act of producing a live telecast with so many forceful personalities hinges on the trust built up over many years.

“This is a real team,” Ehrlich said. “We all work on a lot of shows, but I’d like to think when we come together every year for this one, it’s really special.”

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    1. Geo says:

      You would think that this producer and his ilk are smart enough to give sound, productive advice, but we can clearly see that the rich and famous can sometimes (or most times) be no smarter than your average fifth grader. The main-stream-media and what it seems to be 90% of Hollywood celebrities were all against Trump. These Hollywood bigwigs (and probably most toddlers) thought that that would’ve been more than enough to influence voters. As we all know what the outcome was, their endeavors proved to be counterproductive. Or, perhaps this producer is on to something after all. Maybe he is not that dumb as he looks. Maybe that is exactly the effect he is hoping for: To have celebrities voice their opinions when given a platform so people can vote the other way. Hmm…methods of influencing have come along way. Good one!

    2. Diane Arcuri says:

      So sick of the Hollywood elite and musicians mouthing off about politics. He’s a fool for encouraging it further! In case these fools forgot, nearly 1/2 the voting (and buying) public voted for President Trump. That being said, I’m glad Joy Villa decided to share a viewpoint from the other side! Finally! I’m sure he didn’t expect that! :-P

    3. Kirk VanDervort says:

      I watched and political rhetoric has always showed up, but come on Ken, you were SO FOCUSED on politics, that the technical disasters make it a less than the great show that we have become accustomed to. So your focus should continue on less technical screw ups, politics take care of themselves.

    4. Paul Cubert says:

      It should be about the music,not political BS..
      So I am boycotting the Grammy Awards….

    5. Chicago860 says:

      WTTW know-it-all looking to create more Dixie Chicks.

    6. macksfield says:

      i stopped watching the grammys years ago because of the very thing Ken is promoting, politics at the grammys. My grown children dont watch them either and i doubt their children will watch them either. Its no secret there is less and less interest in the grammys Ken. Hard to imagine a grown man like yourself committing marketing suicide. But you seem to have mastered the most incoherent, repulsive promotional strategy I’ve ever heard of.

    7. Carole Solomon says:

      The political climate cannot be ignored. I will not be silenced so why would I expect anyone else to be silenced. Too much is at stake. They are not “just” entertainers. These are artists whose voices are important to me. I want to hear the voices of artists, scientists, professors, and anyone else that has something to say about the current political climate.

      • Craig Sonoma says:

        As I said below, I’m all for free speech and, if they choose to risk compromising their careers/alienating their audiences for it, all the better. However, these same people would deny free speech to those they don’t agree with. That’s a real problem.

    8. SteveStevens says:

      The sooner that the musicians realize that they are merely minstrels here for our amusement the better. We don’t pay them for their opinions.

    9. Walter Allen says:

      The great part is, no one cares about what these useful idiots have to say, except the other useful idiots. I have much better things to do then to watch a bunch of spoiled, over paid pseudo “intellectuals” spout nonsense. I predict very low viewing.

    10. Bunson says:

      Not many comments supporting the decision of the producer.

    11. Craig Sonoma says:

      Free speech, I’m all for it, the more outrageous & over the top the politics, the better! I encourage them to alienate half, or more, of their audience by castigating the deplorables for voting for Trump, lecture white women who voted for Trump on the errors of their ways (ala Lena Dunham), explain how black lives matter but, if you’re white, not so much. It’ll really be a hoot when someone justifies sanctuary cities, including shielding criminal illegals predators from deportation. What about letting a conservative speaker with different views talk at the birthplace of free Speech: UC Berkeley? No? Not OK? Why not? Ooh, ooh, I know, we’ll call them a fascist, racist, and accuse them of hate speech, yada yada yada, and – voila – problem solved! No speech. Ain’t America (as defined by the Liberal media, entertainment complex, and academia) grand?!

    12. Yard b says:

      These people are optional in my life. I don’t care what their political views are. It would be in their best interest to keep it to themselves. I won’t be watching to see any of it.

    13. Tony Gump says:

      Oh, the Grammy’s are on tonight? I have more important and pleasant ‘guy’ things to do, such as laundry, dusting, dishes, vacuuming, etc.

    14. No. If they want to express it outside of the grammy’s..fine but people watch the grammy’s for the artist and their music. Politics just muddy’s the waters. And it is not muzzling freedom of speech. We all have that but we also all have the right to use it at the right time.

    15. The Truth says:

      All those in this thread who seek to muzzle freedom of expression by musical artists at the Grammy Awards are tone deaf to American values. As Jack Nicholson famously delivered a line by Aaron Sorkin: “You can’t handle the truth.”

    16. Mark Meyer says:

      If I watch, and that is a big if, it will make it easier to decide who I will never listen to again.

    17. mike calvert says:

      Music only. Not going to tune in.

    18. Sharon says:

      Keep pushing it, Ehrlich. Sing then shut up! No one cares what celebrities think about politics. Thanks for the warning, I won’t watch it.

    19. Tom G. says:

      What hopeless stupidity this is. When will these people ever learn that we don’t give a rat’s ass about their political views? Why can’t they just give their performances, take the awards, say thank you, then just go home and shut up?

    20. Rich says:

      Thanks for the warning. I’ll be sure not to watch.

    21. Pman says:

      Yes, nothing says moral high ground then the elites in Hollywood. Their marriages are measured in dog years with mostly the baby coming before the marriage, followed by a divorce because someone was found cheating. They use drugs and alcohol to excess but don’t want their supply across the Mexican boarder blocked. They lecture on climate change from their mega mansions and private jets. They want everyone allowed into our country because they are protected by their gated communities with security guards. Yes, I sit in awe of their wisdom.

    22. Dabigragu says:

      This is a PR stunt to create a buzz the following days. Ken Ehrlich, the producer, is concerned his show will suffer lower ratings, as have most of the other ‘award’ shows this year. His “deep thinkers” will undoubtedly follow their marching orders like good little soldiers. Truman Capote knew what he was talking about when he stated “most performers in the entertainment business are dumb as rocks”.

    23. Thomas Flynn says:

      I’ve personally known or had conversations with many artists, music and otherwise. If Ehrlich thinks there’s “deep thinking” going on there, he’s as shallow as most others in the entertainment industry.

    24. Larz Larzen says:

      I’ll bet he encourages them to be political only if they didn’t vote for President Trump. Anyone voicing an opposing political view would be harassed, ridiculed, spat upon, and blacklisted. Hollywood is a sick international socialist commune.

    25. kp says:

      Say whatever you like, no one watches this liberal PC suck fest anyway

    26. Cap says:

      Dont waste your time watching this. If you want to see zombies go over to AMC and watch The Walking Dead. Hay Kirkman, ya need to tone down the P.C. and social engineering less TWD becomes like the grammys in viewership.

    27. its slinky such a wonderful toy says:

      Every single one of these so called entertainers should be thrown out on their arsses, since when did entertainers become political propagandists?

    28. I stopped watching award shows years ago, and I bet more people are doing so every year.

    29. Irma says:

      Never have seen a need for Grammys. Stars are Stars and everyone knows it. They get paid to do their jobs so who cares what their Political views are and why should they matter. Getting rid of the Grammys all together is not a bad idea. Unlike the Nobel Prize or Olympics, the Grammys only award the Stars that are vain like rolling the red carpet for the least or clothed or least dressed for nakedness for the world to see.

    30. Farmgirl1976 says:

      I DO NOT care what actors/actresses’ political views are. I want to be entertained. I have boycotted movies in the the past two years……I went to about 50 movies per year. I choose my money to reflect my politics.

    31. Darrellb says:

      So the artists are deep thinkers? Right. :)

      I wonder if it will be Ok for the conservative musicians to speak.

    32. Ronald Smith says:

      The Recording Academy announced its official marketing partners for this year’s 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Aflac, Cîroc, Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Hyundai, Intel, JBL by Harman, MasterCard, McDonald’s, People, Procter & Gamble (CoverGirl, Crest 3D White Whitestrips, Olay, and Pantene), and WestwoodOne will all support this year’s GRAMMY Awards and GRAMMY Week events.

    33. Enzo says:

      These “liberal” musicians don’t care if terrorists are coming into the US, they don’t care if illegal aliens come in, and they don’t want a wall to keep anyone out. They don’t really care if we have a country at all apparently. Why would I spend time watching people are are pro-terrorist, pro-illegal alien and anti-American?

      • Larz Larzen says:

        Right on. Forty-nine bodies splattered by bullets in an Orlando night club are an acceptable number to them as long as their politics survive. The end justifies any atrocity.

    34. Gail says:

      I am going to turn on the Grammies tonight because I love music. Not because I want to hear political speeches. So as soon as one is given, I will find something else to do. And I’ll get a list of sponsors and let them know why I missed their ad.

    35. Peter Rockas says:

      Oh how nice… The elite entertainment glitterati are going to show us how to virtue-signal… George Allen comes to mind, “Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

    36. Mark Calki says:

      Music has long been political. War!, Blowin’ in the Wind, Revolution. If you didn’t want an artists music, you didn’t buy it. Conversely, I have never signed up to be lectured by musicians and actors on my politics. So, along with the majority of the country, I will not be tuning in to the show tonight.

    37. David G. says:

      Screw the left wing nitwits, no one in this household will watch their worthless freak show, we’ll do something more productive. BTW I’ll be writing my congressman and senator and urge them to increase taxes on the entertainment (sic) industry, I’ve a few ideas myself.

    38. illinoisatlarge says:

      Parasites pandering to other parasites and wondering why their movies don’t sell any longer. Who in the vast country is left who would want to hear this tripe, not many.

    39. Ahhh political passion…

      as long as they agree with us.

    40. TomfromErie says:

      Thanks for the heads up, I do not need to be lectured to by a bunch self important left wing zealots. Hopefully the competing networks will have something to view. If not I’ll just grab a book to read. Maybe I’ll read “Art of the Deal” once again.

    41. Rich Vail says:

      So tonight Hollywood commits suicide. If you really want to lose both $$$ and what’s left of your reputations, get political on the mic tonight. Really piss off half your target audience for your product…watch what happens at the box office when half the country stops buying what you have to sell.

    42. Andrew Lock says:

      Music has really deteriorated in the last 40 years. When I was a kid I used to listen to the same music as my Dad.

      In 1971, Simon and Garfunkel beat out Chicago, Crosby Stills and Nash, Elton John and Johnny Cash for Album of the Year.

      In 1978, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours beat out The Eagles’ Hotel California for the Grammy for Best Album.

      Here are the Album of the year winners from from 1966 to 1970: Frank Sinatra(2), The Beatles, Glen Campbell, Blood Sweat and Tears, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, George Harrison, Stevie Wonder(3), Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac and the Bee Gees.

      I haven’t even touched on dozens of other bands and artists like Ottis Redding, Aretha Franklin, George Benson,Ray Charles, Earth Wind and Fire, Led Zepplin, AC/DC, The Doors, The Band, Genesis, Boston, …. I could go on forever. Their music is still popular today and has been re-discovered by millions of new fans.

      Does anyone really believe that in 30 years from now anyone will be listening to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga or Kanye West.

      Today, you really have to look for good music, and there is still some good music being made. The problem is that it’s crowded out by some terrible top 40 music.

    43. Anon says:

      Annnnnnd….leftists still don’t get why they lost. Keep up with the ad hominem nonsense and identity politics. A democrat will never occupy the white house again at this rate.

    44. No, he doesn’t want political comments. He wants anti-Trump, anti-Republican harangues. Just another reason not to watch any awards show. These narcissistic, self-absorbed dolts think they can keep whining about the President and how terrible America is and keep an audience.

    45. One can only wonder if a conservative actor would be allowed the same freedom to support Trump. Well, no, actually, one does not have to wonder at all!

    46. Precious Snowflake says:

      thanks for heads up…

    47. Andrew Lock says:

      Nobody watches these shows anymore. There was a time when awards shows used to bring us together. Now, because of the hate and contempt that the “elites” have for the average american, no one will watch these shows.

    48. SnoDa says:

      Shut Up and Sing!

    49. Santiago Vo says:

      Boycott them. They still think they matter…

    50. Wayno says:

      I suggest boycott the Grammy and Academy Awards broadcasts.

      • Rich Vail says:

        Better yet, stop buying their product. Contact those companies that advertise and pay for this drivel. Tell them you can no longer buy their products becuse of their support for hate…use the Left’s weapons against them…

        • Dennis says:

          I cannot agree more. BOYCOTT!!
          These people do not represent the American people.
          They live in a liberal bubble,a bubble that truly makes
          no sense.

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