Grammy Awards Postponed as Covid-19 Rages in Los Angeles

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The delay comes less than four weeks before the ceremony was to be held, on Jan. 31.

The 63rd annual Grammy Awards, set to be presented this month, have been delayed over concerns about Covid-19, which has been spreading rapidly in the Los Angeles area, where the event was planned, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The delay comes less than four weeks before the ceremony was to be held, on Jan. 31, although the Recording Academy, the organization that presents the awards, had so far announced few details about the show.

In an interview in November, when nominations were announced, Harvey Mason Jr., the chairman and interim chief executive of the academy, said that an event was planned for a small audience, but that many other details were still being worked out. Trevor Noah, from “The Daily Show,” was to be the host.

The news came as unions and entertainment industry groups have called to suspend in-person television and film production in Los Angeles, citing the danger of overwhelmed hospitals, and as several late-night shows moved back to remote formats. The academy was expected to issue a formal announcement about the delay later on Tuesday. The postponement was first reported by Rolling Stone.

Beyoncé has the most nominations for the ceremony, with nine in eight categories. Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and the rapper Roddy Ricch are among the other major contenders for the show. In classic Grammys fashion, controversy — or at least loud complaints — have swarmed around this year’s nominations, as stars like the Weeknd and the country singer Luke Combs, who had some of the biggest hits of the period, were left off the ballot.

Despite offstage griping, the Grammys remain one of the most high-profile moments in the year in pop music, with stars relishing the TV exposure and record executives schmoozing during glittery industry gatherings. Even if muted by the pandemic, the Grammys had been expected to represent a major media moment for the music world.

Other major award shows have attempted a variety of approaches during various stages of the pandemic, with mixed results. The BET Awards, held in June; the MTV Video Music Awards, in August; the Billboard Music Awards, in October; and the Latin Grammys, in November, were televised without audiences, and artists appeared remotely from soundstages to perform and accept awards.

The Country Music Association Awards held an in-person ceremony in Nashville in November, with a live audience consisting mostly of the show’s performers, who were socially distanced but largely unmasked. A month after the awards, the singer Charley Pride, 86, died of complications from Covid-19, although where he was exposed remains unknown.

In other industries, the pandemic forced the Emmy Awards to stage a largely virtual event in September. The Oscars were postponed two months from their original Feb. 28 date to April 25, with the format of the ceremony not yet determined. And the Tony Awards announced in August that the show would go ahead, online, at an unspecified date, after initially postponing its June date.

Sarah Bahr contributed reporting.

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