Grammys Could Be Moving, Have a Hold on a Venue in Las Vegas

Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena could be the host venue for the 2022 Grammys, sources tell Billboard.

Other venues are under consideration to host the rescheduled awards show, sources say, but Recording Academy officials have quietly placed a hold on the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which in just two days has gone from backup-plan venue to front-runner due to the lack of available replacement venues in Los Angeles.

Located on the Las Vegas Strip inside the MGM Grand hotel and casino, the 29-year-old sports and music venue has operated as a joint venture between AEG and MGM Resorts International since 2016 when the two companies built the T-Mobile Arena, which they own and operate as a 50-50 joint venture. In terms of hosting the 2022 Grammys, it meets two essential requirements – it’s available in April 2022 when Recording Academy executives hope to stage the rescheduled Grammys, and at 17,000 seats it has a large enough seating capacity to host the event. (The Recording Academy declined to comment for this story.)

There is, however, one serious disadvantage — unlike the AEG-owned Arena (formerly Staples Center) which has hosted the Grammys 19 times in the last 22 years — the MGM Grand Garden Arena doesn’t have luxury suites.

That could mean a major financial concession for Recording Academy, which generates millions of dollars in sales each year leasing Arena’s 172 suites for “music’s biggest night,” sources tell Billboard. But moving the Grammys to the spring leaves the awards with few good venue options. While a springtime ceremony should be enough time for the current coronavirus surge to pass, it eliminates Arena and nearly every major professional sports arena in the country.

Both the NHL and the NBA require every team in their respective leagues to hold all of April, May and most of June for playoff games and championships. There are exceptions for teams with no chance of making the postseason, but since opening in 1999, one of Arena’s three tenant teams have always made the playoffs. MGM Grand Garden Arena has no sports tenants.

The Recording Academy typically needs 12 to 14 days to build the production, and the Academy’s 2019 contract accommodates the nearly two-week stretch by having the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers and the NHL’s Kings take extended road trips while the Recording Academy is using the building. The contract also extends the Academy’s right to sell Arena’s suite inventory, which earns the academy approximately $5 million annually, sources tell Billboard. According to tax documents from 2017, the last year returns are available covering the Grammys in Los Angeles, suite sales were almost 40% of the $12.8 million in total Grammy ticket sales the academy generated in 2017 at the LA arena. That additional revenue is likely even more important this year, following a scaled-down, no-audience ceremony at the nearby LA Convention Center in March 2021, but even in a big city like Los Angeles, there are not many options.

The Honda Center in Anaheim has a tenant NHL team and faces the same availability restrictions. The Forum in nearby Inglewood is busy with seven concerts on its calendar that month including three Billie Eilish shows, and does not have suites. The new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood where the NFL’s Chargers and Rams play, and where the Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 13, is available in April or May as a potential temporary home for the Grammys, stadium officials confirm, but at 70,000 seats — compared to about 20,000 at Arena — it’s probably too big and cost prohibitive for the arena production.

Even in Vegas, finding a venue isn’t easy. T-Mobile Arena has about 50 suites and would serve as an excellent host venue for the Grammys if it weren’t home to the first-place Golden Knights hockey team who are expected to go deep into the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup.

AEG also owns 50% of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which will host concerts by Andrea Bocelli, Bad Bunny and John Mayer through March with no concerts or events booked in April or May. The Grand Garden Arena and its no frills concourse and black box interior isn’t nearly as posh as Arena. It has played host to massive sports and music events like the 2015 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight and Phish’s annual Halloween concert series.

The MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted the Latin Grammy Awards six times from 2014-21. It also hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards 12 times from 2006-19; and the Billboard Music Awards 17 times from 1997-2019.

If the show is held in Las Vegas, this would be the first time a Grammy telecast has been held in a city in which the Recording Academy doesn’t have a chapter.

Since the first live telecast in 1971, the Grammys have been held in Los Angeles 39 times, in New York 11 times and in Nashville once (in 1973). If the Grammys do land in Las Vegas, it would also be the first time the Grammys have been held outside of Los Angeles since the show in January 2018 was held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Sidney Poitier’s Death Mourned by Lenny Kravitz, Dionne Warwick & More

Sidney Poitier, legendary actor and former ambassador, died on Thursday (Jan. 6). He was 94 years old.

In 1958, Poitier became the first Black actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for The Defiant Ones. Five years later, he became the first Black actor to win an Oscar for Lilies of the Field. He also received a Grammy, two Golden Globes and a BAFTA award.

The Bahamian star received numerous honorary awards including the AFI life achievement award (1992), the Kennedy Center Honors (1995), a honorary award from Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (2001) and the BAFTA fellowship (2016).

In 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. He was also named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.

Poitier starred in two films with title songs that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – To Sir, With Love (Lulu’s title song held the top spot for five weeks in 1967) and Let’s Do It Again (The Staple Singers’ title song spent a week on top in 1975). He also starred in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle, which helped to popularize Bill Haley and His Comets’ “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock,” the first rock and roll recording to become a smash hit.

Following the news of Poitier’s death, countless stars including Lenny Kravitz, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Oprah and Barack Obama took to social media to mourn the loss of the trailblazing movie star. See below.

Ex-Member of The Rascals Can’t Stop Bandmates From Using Name, Judge Rules

An ex-member of the classic rock band The Rascals cannot block his former bandmates from using the name for a reunion tour, a Manhattan federal judge has ruled.

Eddie Brigati accused two of his former bandmates of breaching contracts and infringing trademarks by using the “Rascals” name as part of a 2018 tour, but U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl dismissed those accusations in a ruling on Thursday.

The judge cited a number of different reasons for why Brigati’s claims were legally flawed, most notably that Brigati – who left the band way back in 1970 — had long ago legally “abandoned” his interest in the “Rascals” trademark through decades of disuse.

“Brigati has failed to show that he performed even one time under any version of The Rascals name between 1970 and 2012,” Judge Koeltl wrote in his ruling.

The Rascals, originally The Young Rascals, were a New Jersey rock act that released a trio of Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers in the late 1960s: “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin'” and “People Got to Be Free.” The band – Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli – was fully broken up in 1972 but has toured occasionally and was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

The current lawsuit was filed by Cavaliere and Cornish through their entity Beata Music LLC in 2018, seeking judicial approval to use “Rascals” in a reunion tour after Brigati declined to participate and objected to their use of the name. Brigati later filed counterclaims, accusing Cavaliere and Cornish of wrongdoing by using and seeking to register the trademark.

In dismissing those accusations Thursday, Judge Koeltl rejected the argument that Cavaliere and Cornish breached contracts by using the name, ruling that various agreements among the bandmembers either did not apply to the current situation or that Brigati had not been a party to them.

Judge Koeltl also rejected Brigati’s claim that Cavaliere and Cornish violated trademark law, saying there was no chance consumers would be confused when they read the carefully worded tour name: “Felix Cavaliere and Gene Cornish’s Rascals.” He also said Brigati simply waited far too long to file his case.

“Brigati offers no justification for his delay, and [Cavaliere and Cornish] would be prejudiced if Brigati were allowed to sit idly by for decades while others made productive use of the Rascals mark, only to assert trademark infringement claims when a lawsuit was filed against him,” the judge wrote.

An attorney for Brigati declined to comment Friday (Jan. 7). An attorney for Cavaliere and Cornish told Billboard he was “pleased with the court’s thorough analysis.”

“We initially brought the case for the purpose of determining what combination of members could use The Rascals name for a final tour, given some vague contract language. It was a limited case that resulted in far-reaching counterclaims,” said Eric Bjorgum, of the law firm Karish & Bjorgum PC. “Our claims are technically still pending, and we are considering our options. Overall, we are happy to have the counterclaims behind us and to have clarity on the contract issues that vexed the original members for some time.”

John Travolta Is ‘Dizzy’ With Excitement for Daughter Ella’s Debut Single

John Travolta‘s daughter is following in his famous footsteps. On Friday (Jan. 7), the Grease and Saturday Night Fever actor took to Instagram to share that his 21-year-old daughter Ella is making her official foray into music, and he couldn’t contain his excitement at the news.

“I’m so excited for Ella! Her song ‘Dizzy’ is out right now! The link is in my stories and bio!” the 67-year old wrote, sharing a video with multiple cuts of Ella singing and playing the piano while softly singing the track.

Ella shared that she was just as excited as her father in her own post about her music debut. “So happy and excited to say that my first single ‘Dizzy’ is out now!!!” she captioned the same video on her Instagram account. “It’s been a long time coming but I’m still that 14 year old weird girl at heart and I love it.”

Travolta was 22, a year older than his daughter is now, in July 1976 when his debut single, the ballad “Let Her In,” reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. He returned to the top 10 two years later with a pair of collabs with his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John: “You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights.”

Ella first teased the arrival of a music project, which is currently untitled, Nov. 27 in an Instagram post. “There is something I’ve been working on for the past year that is very dear to my heart,” she said. “I wanted to share a part of a song that I wrote that will be on my EP coming out next year. Very excited (and nervous). Hope you like it!”

Ella and John once collaborated in 2009 for Disney’s ensemble comedy film Old Dogs — in which Ella starred alongside her father in the movie as Emily Greer — on the track “Every Little Step I Take.”

See John’s post about Ella’s debut single below.

21 Savage Raps About Kim Kardashian & Ye’s Split on Gunna’s New Album

21 Savage has been keeping up with the Kardashians and their turbulent romances, as evidenced by his reference to Kim and Ye‘s divorce on Gunna‘s new album DS4EVER released Friday (Jan. 7).

On fifth track “thought i was playing,” 21 raps in the second verse, “SF90 cost a M, dumped his Glock like Ye did Kim.” The lyric alludes to the Kimye split announced last February, when Kardashian filed for divorce from West after six-plus years of marriage. The billionaire duo cited irreconcilable differences for the split and asked for joint legal and physical custody of their kids — although that’s not how 21 sees it, by making Ye the one who dumped her.

It didn’t seem like Ye was ready to let his estranged wife go in December, when he sang, “I need you to run right back to me, baby… more specifically, Kimberly,” while performing “Runaway” at the Free Larry Hoover concert with Drake. His longing for his estranged wife might have already dissipated after he took Uncut Gems actress Julia Fox on a luxurious second date complete with a photo shoot. “It was every girl’s dream come true. It felt like a real Cinderella moment,” Fox said in a piece for Interview magazine.

Departure Festival Cancels Playa Del Carmen Event

Departure Festival has canceled its inaugural show in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The electronic event was scheduled to begin Friday (Jan. 7) in the resort destination and extend through Jan. 11 with a stacked lineup featuring more than 70 artists, including Black Coffee, Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Vintage Culture, Lee Foss and many more.

“We have been liaising with local authorities from Playa Del Carmen and with the recent severe rise in the cases of Omicron in the past few days, the Governor announced last night that Playa Del Carmen is returning to yellow tier COVID restrictions and therefore we cannot continue with a show of this size as planned,” organizers wrote in a statement posted to social media on Friday.

The statement continues that attendees, some of whom have already arrived in Mexico for the five-day festival, will receive a full refund on ticket and hotel packages, in addition to a $200 credit for a future event put on by Departure’s producer, Pollen. Would-be attendees are still able to stay in their hotels, despite the festival cancellation.

On Thursday, Carlos Manuel González, the governor of Quintana Roo — the Mexican state in which Playa Del Carmen is located — tweeted that the state would be raising its COVID-19 traffic light system from green to yellow from Jan. 10-16, 2022. This switch, González said, will include a 70% capacity restriction for open-air events, while bars, nightclubs, dance clubs, cantinas and other “show centers” will not be allowed to open at all.

A source close to Departure tells Billboard that rather than host the first three days of the festival before the new restrictions came into effect, organizers are choosing to cancel the show completely in order to maintain a positive relationship with local authorities in the region, where Pollen regularly hosts events. The company is scheduled to host J Balvin’s sold-out Neon Cancun event Jan. 20-24.

This yellow-tier implementation comes during a busy time for electronic events in the region. In Tulum, the Quintana Roo resort destination located an hour south of Playa Del Carmen, Zamna festival launched Dec. 31 and extends through Saturday. Damian Lazarus’ Day Zero festival is also scheduled to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Tulum this Monday.

The cancellation of Departure follows Thursday’s cancellation of the Dead & Company’s Playing in the Sand events that were scheduled to take place Jan. 7-10 and 13-16 in nearby Riviera Maya, Mexico. Playing in the Sand was canceled by producers CID Presents over the spike in COVID-19 cases.