"Stewart Ready to Work the Grammy Room Again"
February 16, 2002
by Rick Porter


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 the show.

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 the ticket."


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