The host of CBS’ “Late Late Show” has no illusions that viewers will tune in to Sunday’s Grammycast on CBS for comedy and a soft-shoe routine, despite his talent at both. Not with a lineup of performers that includes Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith, Childish Gambino, Miley Cyrus, U2, Pink, and Chris Stapleton.
“In truth, this show doesn’t need a host,” Corden told Variety outside Madison Square Garden on Thursday after the ceremonial unrolling of the red carpet.
“Most awards shows are groups of millionaires giving each other gold statues. So you need a host to make it feel like a show,” Corden said. “This is the best [music] lineup you could ever imagine to see. What we have to do is essentially be there for the moments when [producers] realize they need the cameras to be facing somewhere else.”
Moreover, the 20,000-plus seat arena isn’t the right atmosphere for Corden to deliver a monologue, even at the top of the show. “It’s Madison Square Garden. Not the most intimate of venues. You can’t really do comedy. People are there to hear music and watch the performances. We’ll just have tiny [host] bits here and there. You’ll barely see us.”
Corden said Lamar’s appearance is definitely not to be missed. He wouldn’t give up any spoilers, but he promised it would be “really special” and “powerful.” Lamar’s approach to his performance “made us completely rethink what we were going to do in that segment,” Corden said. Mars’ time on stage also promises to be “brilliant and electric,” he said.
The level of talent on display during the three-and-a-half hour live telecast is humbling. Corden learned that in his first Grammy go-round last year.
“The most important thing is to not have any ego about it as the host. You don’t go ‘I want to do this and I want to do that.’ That’s not what the job is,” Corden said. “This is all about this music. It’s all about these great artists. We’re just going to try to bring in some little tiny pockets of joy wherever we can.”
(Pictured: CBS’ Jack Sussman, Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich, James Corden, and Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow roll out the red carpet Thursday outside Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s 60th annual Grammy Awards)