Grammys producer: Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars among show's 'keepers of the flame'

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The tribute to Levon Helm, who died in April in New York, looks pretty amazing with Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard [of Alabama Shakes], and of course T Bone Burnett, guiding that number…
KEN EHRLICH: It’s a group that feels right because it reaches out across [different] types of music just like Levon, who was about old and young, country and pop. He was this incredibly eclectic artist. It’s a great cast of people. The thing I love about it is the most minute detail of it, which is that Elton, who loved Levon, and even wrote a little song [with lyricist Bernie Taupin] about him, I’ve asked him to do a little thing, and he while he hasn’t said yes yet, I think that he will. He’s got the last verse-chorus, and as the others are singing [the Band’s classic] The Weight I want him to tag it and do a little callback to [the Levon lyric] “He shall be Levon,” which I think will really put a lump in everybody’s throat. It should be really touching, I think. It’s the part of the memorial segment of the show, which has become a pretty special thing for us, it’s something that is emotional, and that’s what music can be more than anything else.

Justin Timberlake is opening the show. I know he’s one of your favorites…
It’s great seeing Justin back. The last time he was on, he literally saved the show. We had a gaping hole in the show [after the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident] and he jumped in at the top of the show with Al Green. It was fantastic of him to do it. And then, I hope we didn’t cause it, but he left music for a while and became a movie star of sorts. It was really exciting when we got the call that he was back and doing music. I don’t know how many people even knew until a few months ago that he was back and making music. He was incredibly quiet about the fact that he was working on an album. And to me it’s not just an album, it’s a great album. He played five or six tracks for me just two or three weeks ago, and the great thing is not only is he doing a song that everybody has heard by now, but he’s also going to tack on to that something that nobody has heard. So we’ve got a nice little world premiere going with him that’s very, very exciting.

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