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LL Cool J Wants a ‘Lip Sync Battle’ Aretha Franklin Tribute

Lip Sync Battle” host and producer LL Cool J wants to dedicate an episode to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died last week at age 76.

The series, which pits celebrities against each to lip sync popular songs, has done multiple tribute episodes in the past for artists like Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera. Now, a Franklin episode may be on the horizon.

About to wrap its fourth season, “Lip Sync Battle,” anchored by LL and his co-host Chrissy Teigen, has received three consecutive Emmy nominations for structured reality program, including one this year. Throughout its run on Spike, the program has featured several stars, including Anne Hathaway, Zendaya, Tom Holland, John Krasinski, Channing Tatum and Emily Blunt.

Here, LL Cool J chats with Variety about how the producers find talent, his personal highlights from the show, and a potential “Lip Sync Battle” tribute to Franklin.

This marks the third reality series Emmy nomination for “Lip Sync Battle.” What makes it so successful?

Honestly, we’re just having fun. I couldn’t tell you exactly what resonates with it because if I did, that would mean we had some type of formula. We’re just having fun, and it’s just nice that people are responding to what we’re doing, and people are recognizing it and watching it, and that’s a good thing.

What makes Chrissy Teigen a good co-host?

Chrissy is dope because she’s so cool. She tells it like it is. She doesn’t care too much, so that makes it fun.

You’ve had some iconic pairings on the show. How do you choose who to bring on?

I work really closely with [executive producers] Casey Patterson and Jay Peterson, and we talk about different people to bring to the show. If I need to make a call — ask friends if they want to come play with us — I’ll do that. They call people they know. It’s kind of like a family affair. We reach out to people, touch people, see if they want to come play and just have fun. The thing is, we don’t really take it too seriously. The only thing we take seriously is that we just want it to be entertaining, but other than that, we’re just having a good time with it. It’s more about chemistry — it’s like, who’s gonna to be exciting together? Who’s gonna be juicy? It’s like, are we gonna feel something? Are we gonna feel some energy? Are we gonna feel some electricity? Are we blending it? Is it oil and water or is it chocolate milk? In other words, we want something that’s gonna blend sometimes, and then sometimes we may want oil and water, according to who it is and what we’re looking for that week. We switch it up that way. That’s how we do it.

Is there anyone you haven’t had on the show yet that you really want to see do some lip syncing?

There’s quite a few people I’d love to have on there, but I don’t want to reveal it because I don’t want to sound thirsty because then they might say no. For real.

If you were to compete on the show, which song would you pick?

You know I can’t tell you that because then they’ll have the secret weapon. I gotta keep that a secret. How am I gonna tell you that? You know I gotta be able to ambush the world.

Would you ever compete on the show? Maybe a throwdown between you and Chrissy?

It’s possible. It’s possible. I might. You never know. Maybe one day I’ll go out there and try to work it out, but we’d have to see what happens. Maybe, I’ll do “Mama Said Knock You Out” and just get it over with, you know what I mean? I don’t know.

A lot of multi-talented people have come on the show. Has anyone really surprised you with their performance skills?

My man who played Spider-Man was unbelievable. … Tom [Holland] — yo, he was unbelievable doing “Umbrella” and backflips in a baby pool and all that in the water. He was unbelievable. And you know who else? My man who did Janet Jackson — Joseph Gordon Levitt. When he did Janet Jackson and all that — that was amazing.

What’s been your favorite memory on the show so far?

So many, so many. Just the original — the very first — when Anne Hathaway did her thing, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt. Just starting off the first season, and getting it started off was crazy. But then the Michael Jackson special was fun. I’m a King of Pop fan, getting my King of Pop on and all that.

Speaking of special tribute episodes, what’s in the works as far as a tribute to Aretha Franklin? Will you do an Aretha Franklin episode?

I think that would be absolutely amazing. If we continue on and move forward and rock out, then I can imagine us doing that for sure. Of course. Gotta do “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” right? Somebody’s gotta do that. Somebody’s gotta do that.

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