You gotta feel sorry for the Grammy Awards (Sunday, CBS, City 7:30 p.m.)
Kidding. No, you don't actually. But the people who put it all together are crying poor. See, for the first time since 2003, the Grammys, now at its 60th anniversary, will be in New York. At Madison Square Garden, to be specific.
For days now, the trade press has been full of complaints. "The show is really looking good, but it's a challenge," producer Ken Ehrlich told Variety, and he said it "with a sigh," Variety says. "Everything just costs more to do in New York versus Los Angeles, in terms of facilities, stagehands, hotel rooms, transportation, general expenses of the show – all of which we account for, but it's just a different animal."
According to Recording Academy president and chief executive Neil Portnow, "The city had a list of ways they believed money could be raised to make it feasible, and that's pretty much what we relied upon. It hasn't quite turned out that way."
Mainly, it seems, the Academy expected unions to make concessions. The local stagehands union offered $250,000 "in relief," but no other unions made concessions. Shocking that the music industry discovers, like all civilians do, that New York is expensive. Shocking, I tell you.
Anyway, it's an extra-special Grammy Awards, what with the 60th birthday and the setting. James Corden hosts. Among the presenters are 18-time winner Tony Bennett and 15-time winner Alicia Keys. Also presenting are actors Katie Holmes and Anna Kendrick, TV guy Trevor Noah and actor/comedian Sarah Silverman.
The performers, the point of it all, include Jon Batiste, Brothers Osborne, Alessia Cara, Cardi B, Miley Cyrus, Daddy Yankee, Emmylou Harris, Elton John, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Patti LuPone, Bruno Mars, Maren Morris, P!nk, Ben Platt, Rihanna and that man with sad songs, Sam Smith. U2 is expected to perform on a barge on the Hudson river and, given the band's age, they really should wrap up well in woolly Irish sweaters.
Given the climate in the entertainment racket, the role of, and treatment of, women will add a major frisson. For instance, Kesha's performance of Praying will be particularly important, as the singer is in the midst of a drawn-out legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexual assault.
Also, note you, a rap track has never won song or record of the year, which means a win by Kendrick Lamar or Jay-Z would be the first of its kind. And there's tension about whether Latin music will get more mainstream acknowledgment, especially since Daddy Yankee's massive Latin hit Despactio is nominated for song of the year. The tension, the money-complaints and all those aggressively peculiar outfits. What larks. Can you dig it?
Also airing Sunday: Searching for Winnetou (Sunday, CBC 9 pm. on CBC Docs POV) is a very droll, enjoyable doc in which Native author and playwright Drew Hayden Taylor goes to Germany to explore the German obsession with Indigenous life and culture. Every year, thousands of German tourists flock to the Canadian North to get a taste of Native life and the locale. That taste for it all was created by the books and, later, TV series by German writer Karl May about a fictional "Apache warrior" Winnetou.
In Germany, he finds the popularity of the stories and characters is a continuing cultural phenomenon. There are elaborately staged outdoor theatrical versions of Winnetou's adventures. In Bavaria, there's a place where many, many Germans go to "play Indian" for a day, a week, or a month. "Winnetou is like Superman for the German people," one local expert tells him. Taylor is baffled, bewildered and amused by it all, by the studious antics of these hobbyists. You will be too. This romantic infatuation in Germany, alive and thriving, certainly puts "cultural appropriation" in another context.