At the Grammys, oldster Jon Stewart
will boogie, safely
There's at least one big-time advantage
to hosting the Grammy Awards at the hoary old age of 39, says
"It's an opportunity to see a live
show without getting squashed in a mosh pit. I don't get to
concerts anymore. As an old man, you don't really look that
The 44th annual Grammys will air
live from L.A.'s cavernous Staples Center at 8 p.m. Feb. 27
on CBS. It's a return engagement for Stewart, who did last
year's event in the 20,000-seat arena.
Stewart, anchor of Comedy Central's
edgy Daily Show since January 1999, "stopped paying
attention [to rock] when Toto retired. I don't know what's
going on with kids now."
Despite that handicap, Stewart has
heard of "most" of the groups scheduled to perform in the
Grammycast. (The roster includes Destiny's Child, Train, Alison
Krauss, Ralph Stanley and U2.)
Not bad for a North Jersey kid who
grew up on Kiss and Peter Frampton. And Van Halen, "for the
lifestyle they promised us and didn't deliver on," Stewart
told reporters in a conference call.
As for his comedy bits, there are
no restrictions, he says, except "no music jokes." (Ba-da-bing!)
But seriously, folks, CBS "is pretty
cool about stuff. Last year, there was no artistic censoring
at all. I was not allowed to touch U2's fruit plate, but that
was more of a personal rider."
While "it's probably not time for
an Enron diatribe," Stewart says pop star Mariah Carey, whose
huge contract was just bought out, is a good target - "She's
paid $28 million not to sing. I could be paid not to do jokes."
How about President Bush, who's been
pretty much a sacred cow since Sept. 11?
"He's not sacred now. . . . There
just aren't as many dissenting voices. Most people agree with
[his foreign policy]. His 'axis of evil' comments . . . and
his domestic-policy issues are fair game."
A veteran stand-up, Stewart concedes
that some of his shots were duds last year, due to the size
"I'm not used to playing such an
intimate venue. I've never honestly been in a room that large.
I could sort of make out Kid Rock, just because of the hat.
. . .
"I chose to believe they were smiling.
I was pretty much too hammered to second-guess myself."
Speaking of second-guessing, Stewart
acknowledges that CBS is perceived as being, shall we say,
on the gray side.
"The perception is that Angela Lansbury
[of Murder, She Wrote] is still on it. . . . Anybody
under 60 pretty much has an edge there."