I don’t know offhand how much cash the Recording Academy has in its coffers, but I’d hazard a guess they can afford to pay a superstar like Tiffany Haddish something for her time. Earlier this week, Haddish told Variety that she was asked to host the Grammys pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony — the portion of the night where they give out all the awards that don’t make it on TV — but she turned down the gig, because the Recording Academy expected her to work for free.
Not only weren’t the Grammys planning on paying Haddish to host the three-hour livestreamed event, they also wanted her to pay for her own hair, makeup, and outfits. “All of that would have to come out of my pocket,” Haddish told Variety. “I don’t know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it’s disrespectful.”
Much like performing at the Super Bowl, evidently celebrities usually pay their own way to host this portion of the Grammys. You know, for the exposure. “I was like, ‘The exposure is amazing, but I think I have enough. I appreciate you guys asking,’” Haddish said. “And as much as I appreciate the honor of being nominated, that’s not okay.” The comedian is nominated for her second Grammy this year, for Netflix’s Black Mitzvah.
The pre-Grammys telecast sounds like a kind of difficult job. The host hands out 70-odd awards over the span of three hours. Last year, musician Imogen Heap did the honors, presumably for free. “This is something that needs to be addressed,” Haddish told Variety. “How many other people have they done that to? It’s like a guy asking you on a date but telling you that you have to pay for it.”
Interim guy-in-charge of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., confirmed that Haddish was asked to work for free and took to social media to share his “regret and displeasure for how this was handled.” He also blamed an underling: “Unfortunately and without my knowing, the talent booker working for the Academy told Ms. Haddish that we wouldn’t even cover her costs while she hosted this event for us.”
Mason Jr. continued: “To me that was wrong. I’m frustrated by that decision. It was a lapse in judgment, it was in poor taste, and it was disrespectful to the creative community. I’m part of the creative community and I know what that feels like, and it’s not right.” The Grammys chief said he previously apologized to Haddish and reiterated his regrets in the video on Instagram.
Meanwhile, the 63rd Grammys are slated for January 31, 2021.