GRAMMYs Producers on What They Learned from the Will Smith Oscars Controversy (Exclusive)

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Following Will Smith's show-stopping slap at the 2022 Oscars this past Sunday, the producers of the upcoming GRAMMY Awards admitted they're considering that "anything can happen" when it comes to music's biggest night on Sunday.

GRAMMYs executive producer Ben Winston and co-producer Jeannae Rouzan-Clay spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier on Friday to preview the upcoming ceremony and talk about what they learned from the already-infamous Oscars moment.

"It makes you more on your game," Winston admitted. "It makes you go, 'Oh yeah, we're doing a live show for three and a half hours, where anything can happen.' ... It reminded us to be ready for anything that could happen and to talk about anything that could happen and it made me lose a lot more hours of sleep than I would have done if it hadn't happened, 'cause I was like, 'Oh yeah, we're doing that in a week's time!'"

The pair shared that they're excited for Sunday's bevy of live performances, which range from Silk Sonic opening the show, to Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Lady Gaga and more!

"I think the whole show, to be very honest, is one big, diverse, ball of fun," Rouzan-Clay noted. "I mean you have performers like Jon Batiste, who is gonna bring his own flavor of energy and excitement to the show, up to Chris Stapleton, who brings a completely different energy of flavor, so I think when you talk about bringing a show together with interesting mixes, the entire show is like one big salad bowl. It's just different things that we're throwing together."

Following the 2021 GRAMMYs -- where the performances took place inside on a sequestered soundstage, while nominees received their awards on a socially-distanced outdoor stage -- the producers are also excited for more freedom when it comes to putting the show together.

"I think we wanted to maintain that sense of intimacy that we had last year in the show, but also kind of open it up now that we are able to invite more people and invite a an additional audience to be involved," Rouzan-Clay explained. "I think it was just a way to kind of have the best of both worlds."

"You know what's funny is, last year we did the show and there was so many rules and regulations about what we could and couldn't do, right? So we had the whole tables thing and the outdoor tent," Winston added. "That all came from what we weren't allowed to do... And what is really interesting is, a year later, is the stuff we did on that show because we had to, we actually enjoyed it and liked it and learned stuff."

"So on the night we are going to have performances on the rooftop overlooking Vegas," he continued. "That is an element that we actually loved from being outdoors last year, so we are doing that and then the tables, the intimacy, the fact that you know, you had Harry [Styles] sitting next to Megan Thee Stallion, we could do stuff again like that this year, and make it feel like a real event. That's what we are excited about."

Of course, amid the epic performances and celebratory moments will be a tribute to the stars that the music world has lost over the past year. A musical salute to Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim will anchor the GRAMMYs In Memoriam segment, however, the Foo Fighters had to pull out of the show last minute due to the sudden death of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins, last weekend.

"We're really sad that they're not in the show, but we totally understand," Winston said. "We didn't wanna do anything that his family or friends or Foo Fighters family wouldn't have wanted, so there will be a mention of him, but there isn't a huge bit for him. Sadly there wasn't the time to put it together or the headspace for anyone to make something bigger than that, but of course we're gonna tribute him, 'cause he was just the most legendary drummer, and also just the one or two times I've met him, the kindest, sweetest man."

Ahead of the awards, this year's host, Trevor Noah, also stated how much he was looking forward to returning to the GRAMMYs stage after hosting last year's pandemic-modified ceremony.

"First of all, it's an honor," Noah shared ahead of the big night. "I mean, hosting the GRAMMYs one time, it is a lifetime achievement. Hosting it twice is an opportunity to mess things up, so it's terrifying, it's exciting, it's an honor and most importantly, I think it's a celebration, because the first one was deep in the pandemic and now cases are going down, people are getting back together, we're gonna have an audience and I'm really excited to share it with people in the crowd."

While Noah said he appreciated the "intimacy" of the 2021 GRAMMYs, he admitted that he's excited for the whole show to be back under one roof this year.

"Whenever people ask me what performances I'm most excited to see, I realize that my answers are almost always lies, because I haven't yet seen the performances," he joked. "I have ideas of who I think I want to see in my head, but then I'm always surprised on the night. Last year was a perfect example of that... You don't know who's gonna bring something up, you don't know who's gonna do something different, you don't know who's gonna roll out a giant bed and twerk on it, so yeah, this year I'm excited to see anybody on stage because that's what makes the GRAMMYs amazing is it's basically the year's biggest all-around concert: Everything country, hip-hop, jazz, whatever it is everything, on one stage, which is what I love."

The 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards are Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, broadcast live on CBS and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+. Follow along at for everything you need to get ready for music's biggest night, including how to watch, performers, GRAMMY winners and more.


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