BetteBack February 28, 1996: Bette Midler Would Be The Perfect Host For The Grammys

Elyria Chronicle Telegram
February 28, 1996


The night may belong to those in the music world, but a comedy star will be presiding over it again.

Ellen DeGeneres will serve as host of the 38th annual Grammy Awards, as CBS televises the ceremony tonight from Los Angeles’ Shnne Auditorium.

Among the scheduled performers are Mariah Carey and Boyz n Men (rendering their Grammynominated collaboration “One Sweet Day”), as well as fellow nominees Mariah Carey, Hootie & the Blowfish, Alanis Morissette and TLC. Presenters are slated to include Tim Alien, Gloria Estefan, Chris Isaak, “Friends” regular Lisa Kudrow and Vanessa Williams.

Michael Greene, president and chief executive officer of the Grammy-presenting Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, continues to deem it very worthwhile to have a comedian steering the audience through the show.

”Because ifs live, anything can happen,” he reasons. “Last year, Bonnie Raitf s amp blew up, and we asked (1995 host) Paul Reiser basically to vamp for four minutes. It would be very difficult for anyone other than a stand-up comedian to make that kind of sense out of a potential hunk of ‘dead’ air time, and that”s served us – well ever since we maae winy crystal our nost eigm years ago.”

Greene doesn’t rule out putting a musician back in that spot again -– Andy Williams, John Denver and Kenny Rogers being examples of artists who have done it – and he thinks of Bette Midler as being “perfect, because she has that comedic sense as well as a great performance element. We just have to find multimedia artists who have a broader perspective on how to be a traffic cop for this kind of show for three hours.”

Music critics often have taken the Recording Academy to task for the Grammy nominees selected, accusing the choices of being out of step with the musical times … but such protests have been considerably fewer this year.

Greene attributes that to the Academy’s development of a national nominating committee, “one of the better moves we’ve made in the last few years. That set up some interesting procedures
The categories of Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist are the only ones that all 8000 voting members vote on.

“We took the top 20 vote-getters in each of those four categories,” Greene explains, “then the 25 members of the national nominating committee pared those 20 down to five. As a result, I think the elements of popularity and sentimentality were weeded out, combined with the strong showing of female singer-songwriters.

If there is a (Grammy) theme this year, I think that has to be it” Greene claims he instituted that new procedure because he himself was “tired of seeing popularity rule the day from time to time” in regard to Grammy nominees and winners. “It really does my heart good not only to have a Joan Osborne or an Alanis Morissette (in competition), but also to see a Coolio show up for Record of the Year and a Shania Twain for Best New Artist. That didn’t really throw a lot of the veterans out of the running.”

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