How the VMAs Plan to Honor Aretha Franklin (Exclusive)

By

The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards can't honor those who've given so much to the industry without recognizing the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin

ET spoke with the producers of the highly anticipated event, and they revealed that they are planning to pay tribute to Franklin during the awards show, which will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Monday night. The renowned singer died on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

"We're definitely going to honor her," says Jesse Ignjatovic, co-founder of the production company Den of Thieves and executive producer of the VMAs. "We're talking about what that is still. We're still working it through. Obviously it's Aretha Franklin and we want to get it right and honor her in the best and biggest possible way."

Ignjatovic adds, "It affected everyone here, too. I mean, she's performed on [the Radio City Music Hall] stage many times in her career, in this room. So, it's important."

VMAs executive producer Bruce Gillmer agrees, sharing his own memories of Franklin.

"Aretha, without question, [is] one of the greatest voices in music ever," he says of the late music icon, who appeared several times on VH1's Divas. "VH1 is part of the MTV family. I worked on two shows here in this building with Aretha, very closely with her and her camp. It's pretty emotional."

As for plans to honor her at the VMAs, Gillmer notes, "We're definitely talking about it. Trying to figure out how to put something together that feels right and fitting. We're scrambling, but we're focused on it, without question."

While the producers are still figuring out how to pay their respects to Franklin, it has been confirmed that Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lopez are among those performing at the VMAs. 

On Thursday's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Grande gave her own tribute to Franklin by performing her beloved 1967 song, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."

The VMAs air Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on MTV.

Here's more on the legacy Franklin left behind:

RELATED CONTENT: 

MTV VMAs 2018: How to Watch, Who’s Performing and More!

FLASHBACK: The Biggest Moments From the Best VMAs Ever in 2000!

Aretha Franklin's Friends, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, Emotionally Look Back at Her Legacy

Related Gallery