James Corden Isn’t Hosting 2019 Grammys, but CBS Is Eyeing His Producer, Ben Winston (EXCLUSIVE)

James Corden Grammys Host
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/REX/Shut

James Corden will not be returning as the host of the Grammy Awards this year, Variety has confirmed, although a source close to the situation says that “Late Late Show” show producer Ben Winston is being considered as a successor to longtime executive producer Ken Ehrlich and will work on the 2019 show in an expanded role. Winston has already worked with Ehrlich as a producer on the past two Grammy Awards telecasts, which Corden hosted.

The source emphasized that there is no long-term commitment between the show and Winston. It is unusual for a producer so closely associated with a star to work more closely with an awards show while the star steps back.

Contacted by Variety, a CBS rep confirmed: “Due to James Corden’s ‘Cats’ production schedule (shooting in the UK) and the ‘Late Late Show’ hosting duties, he isn’t able to host the Grammy Awards in 2019.”

Winston has emerged from Corden’s “Late Late Show” as a much sought-after producer. “Late Late Show” has yielded two spinoff series — Apple’s “Carpool Karaoke” and TBS’ “Drop the Mic.” And Winston is executive producer of the freshman CBS sitcom “Happy Together,” which was inspired by Winston’s real-life experience of having One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles move in with Winston and his wife. Winston is also active as a producer of a range of series, documentaries and feature film projects through the Fulwell 73 production banner he launched in 2005 in his native Britain with three longtime friends.

The change is one of many for the Grammys. Ehrlich has helmed the show since 1980, and since 2003 in association with Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow. But in the weeks after this year’s awards, the organization received a torrent of criticism for the low female representation in the nominees, the winners and the show itself. The organization has formed an internal Task Force in an effort to correct the balance, and the 2019 nominees saw a dramatic increase in female representation. Portnow announced in May that he will not be renewing his contract when it is up in 2019.

Ehrlich’s contract is up in 2020, and a new executive producer is expected to come in afterward.

One of Portnow’s signature achievements has been the execution of a 10-year, broadcast deal with CBS, reported to be worth several hundred million dollars, that will keep the Grammys on the network through 2026. However, the 2018 awards lacked superstar talent — Jay-Z, Drake and Ed Sheeran all declined to perform, sources say, while other perennial artists such as Adele and Beyonce were off-cycle — and rating dropped a whopping 24%, according to Nielsen,

However, the 2018 show’s ratings tumbled, with viewership averaging a 5.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 19.8 million viewers, according to time zone adjusted numbers. Last year’s show drew a 7.8 and 26.1 million, meaning the 2018 Grammys were down approximately 24 percent in both measures.