Grammy Awards relocate to New York for 2018 telecast

The 2018 Grammy Awards will take place in New York — a move that will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the event, Recording Academy officials unveiled Tuesday.

The ceremony will be held Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden, which last hosted the Grammys in 2003, on its 45th anniversary.

“Playing host to the music industry’s marquee awards show is a unique creative, artistic and economic boon to the rich cultural fabric of our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We welcome the Grammy Awards back to New York City with open arms and we look forward to continuing to partner with a music industry that supports access and empowerment in the arts.”

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Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow added, “It’s definitely exciting, and for me a little bit nostalgic as well, because my first Grammy Awards after being hired the previous December was the Madison Square Garden show in 2003.”

The move isn’t without its logistical challenges.

“It’s enormously complicated,” Portnow said. “In addition to the awards show, which is the one day, in theory, there is everything else from the week that has to be exported: all of our core Grammy week events and perhaps some additional things beyond that.”

It also will incur greater expenses because, as Portnow noted, “the cost of doing this in New York is extraordinarily higher. That’s just the way it is. As a not-for-profit [organization] we are in the business of being efficient.”

He said a combination of corporate underwriters, advertisers, the sale of VIP packages for the Grammy show and other revenue-generating measures are expected to “end up with a zero-net bottom line cost for us to do this.”

Producing the show itself is always a difficult affair.

“There are challenges — there is nothing pro forma here,” said Ken Ehrlich, longtime executive producer of the Grammy telecast on CBS.

Staples [Center in Los Angeles] has become our home,” he said of the site that has hosted the show for the last 14 years. “It’s very comfortable and very easy to work there.

“But there is an excitement to a New York show,” Ehrlich added. “Each one has an energy of its own, and it really does get to you. Some of our really great moments have come during shows we did in New York: Aretha Franklin singing ‘Nessun Dorma,’ the first show we did at Radio City Music Hall when Lou Reed sang ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’ I think we can take advantage of both the venue and what New York represents musically.”

In conjunction with the shift to New York from its longtime home at Staples Center, director Spike Lee has been tapped to create a promotional video titled “N.Y. Stories,” spotlighting various New York celebrities sharing anecdotes about different New York neighborhoods.

“I’m honored to be a part of this homage to the city I love, that is welcoming the 60th anniversary of the Grammys into its big warm arms,” Lee said in a statement.

The first Grammy Awards ceremony took place on May 4, 1959, recognizing recordings released during 1958, and was a bicoastal event held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City.

Academy officials are not envisioning this as a permanent move to New York and in the past have indicated plans to shift the ceremony from time to time to different host cities.

randy.lewis@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

This post has been updated with additional comments from Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow and Grammy Awards telecast executive producer Ken Ehrlich.

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