NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Producers of the 54th annual Grammy Awards have created a documentary showing how they adapted to the news of Whitney Houston’s death less than 24 hours before the live telecast.
“A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On” premiered Monday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ headquarters in Los Angeles.
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Ken Ehrlich, who has produced the Grammy Awards for the past 32 years, introduced the film and participated in a panel discussion afterward with Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, Grammy host LL Cool J, musician Dave Grohl and other show workers.
LL Cool J said addressing the Grammy audience after Houston’s death was “the most challenging moment I’ve faced in my career.”
Houston, a Newark native, died on the eve of the Grammys at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was preparing to attend a pre-Grammy party.
The show started off on a somber note, as LL Cool J appeared in black and told the audience: “There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family.”
He then led the audience in prayer to “our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.
“Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us,” he said, as celebrities like Lady Gaga and Miranda Lambert bowed their heads in prayer. “Though she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit.”
He introduced a clip of a glowing Houston singing “I Will Always Love You.” LL Cool said afterward. In his performance of “Runaway Baby,” Bruno Mars also mentioned the death: “Tonight we’re celebrating. Tonight we’re celebrating the beautiful Miss Whitney Houston.”
And Stevie Wonder said: “To Whitney up in heaven, we all love you.”
The evening’s most moving moment came as Jennifer Hudson — who has called Houston an inspiration and one of her biggest idols — emerged to sing one of Houston’s signature songs, “I Will Always Love You.” Dressed in black, with only the accompaniment of a piano, Hudson appeared to fight back tears as she sang the song, ending with the line, “Whitney, we will always love you.”
The 25-minute film can be seen on Grammy.com and at the Grammy Museum.
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