Whitney Houston’s death the day of the 54th Grammy Awards called for parts of the live telecast to be reshaped, scrapped altogether, and come to a rushed agreement as how to best honor the legendary singer who died tragically hours before the ceremony was set to air.
“A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On,” which premiered Monday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences chronicled all behind-the-scene changes at the last minute in the documentary.
Host LL Cool J said having hosting duties for the awards show at the Staples Center after Houston’s death was “definitely the most challenging moment I’ve faced in my career.”
The veteran rapper decided to open with a prayer with producers’ say-so, though beginning a live event on national television was unheard of.
The 25-minute documentary and 14-minute highlight reel of past Grammy performances was also a not-so-subtle push for Emmy votes.
“We’d love to have you consider us when you vote,” said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammys for the past 32 years. “We’ve been nominated before and not won.”
After Houston died, the challenge was to “do something that was respectful to Whitney,” Ehrlich said, “that set a tone that also didn’t lose the fact that there were thousands of people who were coming to this event because they had done something remarkable this year on their own, and they needed to be treated with respect as well.”
The documentary includes interviews with LL Cool J and singer Jennifer Hudson, who performed a beautiful, heartfelt tribute in honor of her idol. It also includes rehearsal footage and interviews with Springsteen and Grohl, who said performing alongside McCartney was unforgettable.