Grammy time: Here are the basics


This is part of the two-piece package I sent to papers, previewing the Grammy awards. Earlier (see previous blog), I sent a story about James Corden, the host; now here's a summary of the night:

By Mike Hughes

Here's a quick
glance at the Grammy Awards.

-- When: 8-11:30
p.m. ET Sunday, CBS. (In the Pacific zone, it airs live at 5 p.m.,
then reruns at 8:30.)

-- Red-carpet: 6-8
p.m. ET, E; also,7:30-8 p.m., CBS.

-- More previews:
4-6 p.m. ET, E; 6 and 7 p.m., ET and PT, Fuse.

-- Afterward: 11:30
p.m., ET and PT, E.

-- Top nominees:
Beyonce, 9 nominations; Kanye West, Drake and Rihanna, 8 each.

-- Album of the year
nominees: Adele, Beyonce, Drake, Justin Bieber, Sturgill Simpson.

-- Record (single)
of the year: “Hello,” Adele; “Formation,” Beyonce; “7
Years,” Lukas Graham; “Work,” Rihanna, with Drake; “Stressed
Out,” Twenty One Pilots.

-- Song of the Year
(songwriters' award): “Hello,” “7 Years,” “Formation,”
“Love Yourself,” “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.”

-- Best New Artist:
Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Anderson Paak, The Chainsmokers,
Chance the Rapper.

-- Special tributes:
Prince; George Michael; 40th anniversary of “Saturday
Night Fever,” with BeeGees music sung by Demi Lovato, Andra Day,
Tori Kelly and Little Big Town.

-- Other
combinations: Maren Morris with Alicia Keys, The Weeknd with Daft
Punk, John Legend with Cynthia Ervo, Anderson Paak with A Tribe
Called Quest, William Bell with Gary Clark Jr.

-- Other performers:
Adele, Carie Underwood, Keith Urban, Bruno Mars, Metallica, Dave
Grohl, Lukas Graham, Kelsea Ballerini.


The universe makes sense: A music-lover hosts the Grammys

By Mike Hughes

For many latenight
hosts, music seemed like an afterthought.

No one expected
Johnny Carson to sing or Jack Paar to wail on the guitar. Many shows,
including Jay Leno's and David Letterman's, had a flat rule – no
songs until the final segment.

So this mini-trend
is a pleasant surprise: CBS' James Corden and NBC's Jimmy Fallon
clearly love music -- and now Corden has taken it further. He
co-starred in a movie musical (“Into the Woods”) ... hosted and
sang at the Tony Awards ... and now will do the same at the Grammys.

“Music, for me,
has always been something that surrounded me in various moments –
whether good or bad, ups or downs,” Corden said. “It's made me
feel like I'm not on my own.”

Yes, he started as a
chubby kid from small-town England, ready to do comedy. But the music
was always in the background, he said. “My father was a musician in
the Air Force. His father was a musician and HIS father was a

Back in 2010, Corden
was featured on “Shout,” which became the unofficial anthem of
England's World Cup team and reached No. 1 in England. In 2014, he
co-starred in the movie musical “Into the Woods.” And in between
those was a British charity special; Corden did a bit with George
Michael, singing in the confines of a moving car.

That became “Carpool
Karaoke,” now the most popular bit on Corden's latenight show.
“We've got a huge advantage in this day and age” via YouTube,
producer Ben Winston said. “The next morning you can see if six,
seven, eight million people are watching those bits.”

“Carpool” worked
instantly – and is being turned into a separate series on the
Apple service. On his show, it has let Corden sing alongside Adele,
Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Britney
Spears and more. That should put him at ease at the Grammys.

A talkshow host
who's a musician? In the early days, that was common. Merv Griffin
and Mike Douglas has been band singers; Steve Allen claimed to have
written 8,500 songs, including one (“This Could Be the Start of
Something”) that became a classic.

Much later, Alan
Thicke had a short-lived latenight show. He'd had some success in
music; his son Robin would have much more.

But often, music was
slid to the talk-show background – until Fallon and Corden came

Music lovers

-- Jimmy Fallon,
11:35 p.m. weekdays, NBC

-- James Corden,
12:37 p.m. weekdays, CBS

-- Corden hosts the
Grammys, 8-11:30 p.m. ET Sunday (Feb. 12), CBS. On the West Coast, it
starts at 5 p.m. PT and reruns at 8:30

Career options: Actors would make great con artists

Most of is have never really hear of Inbar Lavi. But on Tuesdays, you can see her do terrific work as a con artist in Bravo's "Imposters." Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Most actors need a
back-up plan, an alternate way to make money.

So this is
encouraging: Many would probably be really good at scams, grifts and

This year, we've
seen several of them skillfully portray con people. There's Giovanni
Ribisi in “Sneaky Pete” ... and Michelle Dockery in “Good
Behavior” ... and now Inbar Lavi in “Imposters.”

Lavi plays Maddie,
who uses love as a weapon. “Maddie is brilliant at ... seeng that
thing that the other person needs and (becoming what) the other
person has wanted,” said writer-producer Paul Adelstein.

This requires the
ability to change attitudes and accents. Actors are good at that ...
especially ones who have the sort of varied background that Lavi has.

“I grew up in
Israel,” she said. “My dad is Polish, my mom is Moroccan, and I
grew up around all kinds of different languages and I love playing
with it.”

In the opener, she
uses a Belgian accent – similar to what her grandmother spoke. From
there, she keeps adding new touches, proving that she can play a
strong scammer ... or could be one.

Adelstein is better
known as an actor, a regular in “Private Practice,” “Girlfriends'
Guide to Divorce” and more. But he's also done some writing and
directing and he started talking with writer Adam Brooks about their
favorite con films.

They concocted
“Imposters,” adding some detours. “The rug can shift under the
audience's feet every now and then,” he said. For Maddie, that

-- An unfaked
romance. “She meets somebody she may have actual feelings for,”
Adelstein said.

-- And revenge.
Suddenly, her old victims are linking and in pursuit.

That gives
“Imposters” an extra spin: Lots of shows offer people who are
skilled scammers; this one add her victims, who are (at first) quite
clumsy at cons.

“We get a bit
better at it,” said Rob Heaps, who plays one of the vengeful
victims. Still, he granted, they're far from being scam masters.
“That's a great thing about the show – it's accessible.”

Most viewers, after
all, would be really bad con artists ... unlike actors, who might be
great at it.

-- “Imposters,”
10 p.m. Tuesdays, Bravo; debuts Feb. 7, rerunning at 1:32 a.m.

-- Bravo also has
latenight reruns of the pilot on Thursday and Saturday nights
(technically, 12:30 a.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Sunday). Another rerun is
10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14,

-- Other channels
will also rerun the opener -- midnight Tuesday (technically, 12 a.m.
Wednesday) on USA; 8 p.m. Feb. 14 on E.


Anika Noni Rose's roles range afar ... and, occasionally, anear

By Mike Hughes

From the moment I saw Anika Noni Rose in "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," almost a decade ago, I thought she was an amazing talent. She's ranged afar since then ... and now stars in a new series on BET. Here's the story I sent to papers:

Anika Noni Rose has
criss-crossed much of the human spectrum.

She's been a corrupt
cop, an honest lawyer and a frog-kissing princess. She's been a timid
secretary in Botswana and the hottest (and saddest) wife in
Mississippi; she's also been Kunta Kinrte's daughter.

“It's exciting,
it's fun, it's stimulating,” she said. “I have no desire to be
myself onscreen every time.”

But sometimes,
that's called for. In “The Quad,” a new cable series, she moves
South to be the first female president of fictional Georgia A&M,
a historically black college. That fits; Rose studied at a
historically black school ... which, until recently, had never had a
female president.

Her character, Eva
Fletcher, promptly upsets the school leaders. “She is a very
intense woman,” said Rose, 44. “She has a Northern way and a
Northern speed .... She's a younger woman, an attractive woman who
looks perfect from the outside – and it galls them.”

Beneath that surface
are mammoth imperfections. An affair with a grad student left her
with few job options. Her husband is estranged; her daughter is
angry. All of that is where the acting comes in.

For Rose, thia
started during her freshman year in high school, when she got the
lead role in the “Fame” musical. “I didn't know I could sing
until then,” she said.

Later, singing would
help her win a Tony Award (in “Caroline, or Change”), co-star in
the “Dreamgirls” movie and become Disney's first black princess
(in “The Princess and the Frog”).

Her college choice,
however, went beyond career ambitions. “I was interested in
cultural enrichment .... I wanted to go to a school where you can
learn and grow around people of your culture.”

She'd grown up in a
Jewish neighborhood in Connecticut, with her parents exposing her to
lots of black music, theater and dance. Now she wanted the full

Florida A&M
began in 1887 as State Normal College for Colored Students; it
continues to have a student body that is 87.6 percent
African-American. Rose said she was instantly impressed by its
academics; she reels off statistics about its business, music and
pharmacy programs and more.

She majored in
theater, went on to the American Conservatory in San Francisco, then
scored. In classic Broadway revivals, she was rebellious Beneatha in
“A Raisin in the Sun” and sizzling Maggie in “Cat on the Hot
Tin Roof.” On TV, she's ranged from Jukebox Thomas (the lesbian cop
with her own crime ring) in “Power” to Wendy Scott-Carr, the
State Attorney candidate in “The Good Wife.”

Most impressive may
have been HBO's “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” requiring a
new accent and attitude. She played Grace Makutsi, fresh from
secretarial school and overeager to help.

That was set and
filmed in Botswana. “I had never been to Africa; there were really
wonderful people.”

Now “Quad” takes
her to another interesting spot. The college is fictional, but the
backdrop is Morehouse College, in Atlanta, the alma mater of Martin
Luther King, Spike Lee, Maynard Jackson, Herman Cain, Samuel L.
Jackson and more.

“Morehouse has an
amazingly rich history,” Rose said. “And it's a gorgeous campus –
but not as gorgeous as Florida A&M.”

Therte's one other
difference: Morehouse is a private, all-male school (linking with
nearby female schools) and has never had a female president. Florida
A&M finally hired one in 2014, after 127 years of male rule. And
fictional Georgia A&M just got its first one, rattling some large

-- “The Quad,”
10 p.m. Wednesdays, BET, rerunning at 11.

-- Second episode is
Feb. 8, following the first two chapters (6 and 8 p.m.) of “Madiba,”
the three-part miniseries about Nelson Mandela.

-- Earlier, the
“Quad” opener reruns Tuesday night (technically, 12:03 a.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 8).

-- The first two
episodes rerun together on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 5:50 and 7:57 p.m.;
also, the second episode also reruns at noon Friday, Feb. 10.

Here's the Super Bowl Sunday line-up -- from morning to "24"

OK, now we can set our plans for Super Bowl Sunday,. (Mostly, they involve staring at a TV, with intermittent eating and/or drinking.) Here are the two previews I sent to papers. The previous one was an overview from the Fox Sports people. This story has the details, including a timeline that stretches from the first preview (11 a.m. ET) to the final, boom-bang moments of "24: Legacy."

By Mike Hughes

You really weren't
planning on doing anything on Sunday, were you?

If Fox has its way,
you'll skip chores and church and such. Instead, you'll stare at
Super Bowl coverage for 12-plus hours.

Partying during that
time is optional. Terry Bradshaw will be working this Sunday for Fox,
but he describes previous Super Bowls as “the greated day of my
life .... We were cooking and the men were playing gmes and having
fun and the pregame shows were on.”

Now there are more
of those shows than ever. Here's the line-up, with all times ET:

The pre-pregame

-- 11 a.m.: “The
Road to the Super Bowl.” This is the annual NFL Films production,
slickly edited.

-- Noon:
“Undisputed,” the cable (Fox Sports 1) show, with Skip Bayless
and Shannon Sharpe..

-- 1 p.m.: “Super
Bowl Kickoff.” Here are more transplants from Fox Sports 1.
Charissa Thompson hosts,with Colin Cowherd, Dave Wannstedt and
Charles Tillman.

The pregame

-- 2 p.m.: Bradshaw
and Curt Menefee host the marathon, which will include Howie Long,
Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, reporter Jay Glazer and rules analyst
Mike Pereira. There will be celebrity drop-ins, said Eric Shanks, the
president of Fox Sports, and maybe some music, shortly before 6.

-- 6 p.m. or so:
Coverage moves to the field, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the
broadcast booth and Erin Andrews and Chris Myers onthe sidelines.
Luke Bryan will sing the National Anthem – ending a string of nine
straight women, including stars from opera (Renee Fleming), Broadway
(Idina Menzel), country and pop.

The game

-- 6:30 p.m.: It's
the kickoff, with strength against strength.

The Atlanta Falcons
are pro football's highest-scoring team (33.8 points a game in the
regular season), but the New England Patriots have the toughest
defense (15.6 points a game). The Falcons' Matt Ryan had the top
quarterback rating ... with the Patriots' Tom Brady finishing second.

One catch: The
Patriots (16-2) also had the third-best offense; the Falcons were
27th in defense.

Whatever happens,
we'll see the details. Shanks said a chip in each helmet will allow a
replay from any perspective. “For the first time ever, we (will)
take fans inside the helmet of any player on the field.”


-- Lady Gaga
performs. The show is expected to include Tony Bennett, 90, her
frequent duet partner.


-- About 10 p.m.:
Bradshaw prevails with the trophy, post-game interviews, etc. After
that, football talks switches to Fox Sports 1.

-- About 10:30: “24:
Legacy” debuts with a high-octane hour, before moving to Mondays.

The story focuses on
an Army Ranger unit, similar to one that killed Osama bin Laden. In
this case, one Ranger took something vital; now all of them are being
chased. “We originally planned that for a general thriller idea,”
said producer Manny Coto. “It wasn't even '24.'”

But then they worked
it into the “24” format. Over 12 (not 24) hours, things seem to
be in real time.

Like Jack Bauer in
the past, the new hero (played by Corey Hawkins of “Straight Outta
Compton”) will be on the clock. “He can never go to the bathroom
or eat,” joked producer Brian Grazer.

Adds Hawkins: “I
can sneak a granola bar on a commercial break.”