New Grammy Documentary To Focus On Awards’ Handling Of Whitney Houston’s Death

By Zachary Swickey

As most fans will recall, earlier this year we lost one of the most important female voices in the history of music. Whitney Houston’s untimely passing occurred just 48 hours before the Grammys were to take place, and a new behind-the-scenes documentary will show how the institution dealt with the tragedy.

The film will premiere on June 11 at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood with Dave Grohl, LL Cool J and Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow scheduled to attend.

Dubbed “A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On,” the 26-minute documentary is the first film to go behind the curtains of Recording Academy’s annual telecast, claims Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammy Awards.

The new documentary will focus on the 48 hours between late Friday afternoon when performances from Paul McCartney were being rearranged, through the news of Houston’s passing on Saturday, and will include the re-writes necessary for Sunday’s show to go forward following the news.

Interest in how the awards would address the tragedy and honor Houston resulted in the awards earning its second largest viewing audience ever, with 39.9 million people tuning in.

“There was greater interest than normal because of the circumstances, but an awful lot of people want to know about the process,” Ehrlich told Billboard. “We never said, ’Let’s look back.’ It was incredible how much stuff we didn’t have because there was little footage other than rehearsals. But we had some B-roll and we lucked out that film crew was following Paul McCartney,” he continued.

Included in the film are this year’s Grammy host, LL Cool J, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, co-producer Terry Lickona, director Louis J. Horvitz, talent producer Chantel Sausedo, Portnow, and Enrlich. They will also all appear together for Q&A session following the screening. David Wild, a Grammy Awards writer, will moderate the session.

Other interviews found in the film include Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson and Joe Walsh. Expect “A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On” to be posted on and they are generating plans to have it screened regularly at the Grammy Museum.

“Maybe we’ve learned something in this process,” states Ehrlich. “Maybe we ought to think about doing this every year. We didn’t even think about this one until the middle of March.”

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