You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Grammys producer Pierre Cossette dies

TV vet was considered 'Father of the Grammys'

Pierre Cossette, the longtime producer of the Grammy Awards, died Friday of congestive heart failure near his home in St. Anicet, Quebec, Canada. He was 85.

Cossette helmed the Grammy Awards from 1971, when he secured the air rights to the show from the Recording Academy and produced the first televised Grammys show for ABC at the Hollywood Palladium, until 2005, when his son John took the reins.

His Cossette Productions was instrumental in turning what had previously been an event for industry insiders into a nationally televised attraction. It wasn’t easy at first: The evening of the first telecast, Cossette personally hustled pedestrians off Sunset Boulevard into the venue.

For his efforts, he was honored by the Recording Academy in 1995 with its Trustees Award, acknowledging his contributions to the field of recording..

He also inaugurated the Latin Grammy Awards in 2000, and was honored with the Latin Grammys Trustees Award.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in a statement, “Pierre was a creative visionary and one of the most accomplished, versatile and respected producers. It was because of his passion and dedication that the Grammy Awards came to network television close to 40 years ago. But for those of us lucky enough to know him personally, we will surely miss his warmth, wit, easy laugh, and the sparkle in his eye every time he recounted one of his many great showbiz stories. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Among the many charities Cossette actively supported with fund-raisers and parties were the Recording Academy’s MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation.

The Grammy Museum – housed at the Pierre Cossette Center in AEG’s downtown development L.A. Live – includes a Grammy telecast exhibit with footage and photos culled from Cossette’s many years with the show.

“Pierre Cossette was our dear friend, our biggest supporter, and a great inspiration as we put this Museum together,” said Grammy Museum executive director Robert Santelli. “We’re pleased that he was able to see his hard work through so many of our exhibits, where thousands of people will now have the opportunity to celebrate his legacy.”

He is literally memorialized in the Hollywood firmament: In 1985, he produced the special “Hollywood’s Diamond Jubilee,” which spurred fundraising to refurbish the dilapidated Hollywood sign. He sold letters for the sign to prominent stars: his longtime management client Andy Williams bought the “W,” while Alice Cooper bought two “O’s.”

Cossette was also a well-known figure in the legit world: In 1978 he produced “The Will Rogers Follies,” a tuner based on the life of the titular comic that collected six Tonys, including best musical. He later produced “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “The Civil War,” which collected Tony best musical nods.

He began his TV career producing the Johnny Mann series “Stand Up & Cheer” for CBS O&Os. He went on to produce series and specials with Andy Williams (who also hosted the first seven televised Grammy shows for Cossette), Glen Campbell and Sammy Davis, Jr., as well as several movies of the week.

He had previously founder-president of Dunhill Records, which had a winning streak in the mid- and late ’60s as the home of the Mama’s and the Papa’s, Steppenwolf, the Grass Roots, Barry McGuire and Johnny Rivers. He sold the label to ABC.

His management clients during the ’50s and ’60s included Andy Williams, Ann-Margret, Rowan & Martin, John Raitt, Vic Damone, and Jane Morgan. He also staged an act for Ronald Reagan at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. He began his show business career in Vegas as a booking agent for MCA – where he eventually rose to head the variety department — after graduating from USC in 1949 with a journalism degree.

Born in Valleyfield, Quebec, on Dec. 15, 1923, Cossette moved with his family to Altadena at the age of four. After high school, he served for three years in the Army Corps of Engineers in the European theater during World War II.

Cossette is survived by his wife Mary, sons John and Andrew, five stepchildren, and eight grandchildren.

More TV

  • Writers Guild Blasts CAA, WME for

    Writers Guild Blasts Talent Agencies CAA, WME for 'Soaring' Profits

    The Writers Guild of America has singled out Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, for allegedly soaring profits. The WGA, in an acrimonious negotiation over proposed new rules on how agencies represent writers, issued a report called “agencies for sale” on Monday morning — a few hours before a fifth [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara Out as Warner Bros. Chief Amid Sexual Impropriety Scandal

    Kevin Tsujihara has resigned his post as chairman-CEO of Warner Bros. following an investigation into his relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk and allegations he used his clout to help her find work at the studio. In a statement, Tsujihara said he realized “my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s [...]

  • The Village NBC

    TV Review: NBC's 'The Village'

    Even by the standards of network television, NBC’s “The Village” wears its inspiration boldly and openly: It’s “This Is Us,” except set among the disparate residents of an apartment building rather than the members of a family. “The Village” leans, hard, into the “This Is Us” formula of trauma-as-drama, deriving its tone from its characters [...]

  • TV Shows to Watch the Week

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of March 18, 2019: ‘The Act’ Premieres on Hulu

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “The Act” premieres on Hulu and “The OA” returns for Season 2 on [...]

  • Fox News Logo

    Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile Joins Fox News as Contributor

    Donna Brazile, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, will join Fox News as a contributor, the cable-news network announced Monday. Brazile, a veteran Democratic strategist, will offer political analysis across both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network’s daytime and primetime programming. She was expected to make her first appearance on Fox News’ [...]

  • TV Ad Sales Upfronts

    NBCUniversal, Sky Make Joint Ad Offering As TV Upfront Looms

    NBCUniversal and Sky PLC will offer joint packages of advertising services, a new effort to monetize the European satellite broadcaster, which was purchased by parent Comcast Corp. for $39 billion last year. Advertisers will be able to reach customers in sundry international markets as well as the United States, using inventory across NBCU and Sky [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content