Magazine article Variety

Grammys Feel the Squeeze in Manhattan

Magazine article Variety

Grammys Feel the Squeeze in Manhattan

Article excerpt

THERE'S A REASON why the Grammys haven't been held in New York for 15 years: The city is extremely expensive.

"The show is looking really good, but it's a challenge," veteran Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich says with a sigh. "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."

New York's first Grammys show since 2003, to be held Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden, is the culmination of a two-year effort that was finally announced amid much fanfare last May. While the 60th-anniversary show is projected to inject some $200 million into the local economy, based on an assessment by the Mayor's Office of Music and Entertainment, long-simmering tensions between the city and the Recording Academy have burst into the open with reports that the production is $6 million to $8 million over budget. Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow confirms the dollar figure to Variety but contests the term "over budget," preferring to describe the multimillion-dollar number as "the delta of difference between holding the same Grammy Week in New York versus Los Angeles."

"The city had a list of ways they believed money could be raised to make it feasible to be in [New York], and that's pretty much what we relied upon," Portnow continues. "It hasn't quite turned out that way."

Julie Menin, the MOME commissioner who led the city's effort to return the Grammys to New York, disputes that assessment. "Absolutely, the city did deliver everything it said it would," she tells Variety, pointing to nearly $5 million raised in "contributions, union concessions and in-kind advertising" to help defray costs.

The devil, as is often the case, lies in the details. The primary points of contention are union givebacks and an Adidas sponsorship, both of which the Academy claims the city said it would deliver. While a representative for Local 1 of the stagehands union confirms that it granted around $250,000 to the Academy in relief, other expected union concessions did not come through. And the city's host committee secured $275,000 from Adidas, far short of a full sponsorship. …

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