LOS ANGELES -- Jon Stewart jokes that he got
the Grammy-hosting gig last year because "they got down to the
S's" after original host Whoopi Goldberg fell ill and had to quit
But he must have done something right, because
he returns as host of the music industry's big night this year.
The Grammys will be broadcast Wednesday, Feb. 27 on CBS.
In the meantime, Stewart, host of "The Daily
Show" on Comedy Central, has some research to do on this year's
nominees, led by relative newcomers like Alicia Keys, India.Arie
and Nelly Furtado, he explained in a conference call with reporters
Friday (Feb. 15).
"I stopped paying attention when Toto
retired," he says, "so I don't know what the hell's going on with
the kids. ... I think this year, [winners] could be anybody from
the " Moulin Rouge"-" Lady Marmalade" girls [Pink, Christina Aguilera,
Lil Kim and Mya] to Dylan."
Stewart says neither CBS nor the National Academy
of Recording Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Grammys, have
placed any limitations on material he can cover. And he's not
sure what he'll do himself.
"Mariah Carey got paid $28 million not
to sing, so we don't know -- at the last minute I could be paid
millions of dollars not to do jokes," he says. "Once we're closer
to the date, we'll figure it out, but it's probably not the time
for an Enron diatribe."
He says last year he had a little trouble playing
to the cavernous Staples Center in Los Angeles, the 18,000-seat
arena where the ceremony is held. "I'm not used to playing such
an intimate room," he deadpans.
"I'd never been in a room that large,"
he says. "You can sort of make out Kid Rock, but that's just because
of the hat. ... I think it's a combination of playing to the room
and playing to the people at home. So maybe I'll do something
a little more visual this year."
Writing for an awards show is different than
writing for "The Daily Show," Stewart says, in that the Grammys
contain more "one-offs" -- quick shots between performances. He
and the show's writers may also have to come up with material
on the fly.
"If Toni Braxton walks out again wearing
nothing but a scarf, I'll probably have to mention that," he says.
But since the focus of the evening is the performers,
he doesn't feel too much pressure. "If I can score a couple of
laughs and direct traffic, I guess I'll pretty much have done