Tiffany Haddish said she was offered a gig to host a Grammys livestream to run before the upcoming awards ceremony, but there was a catch: She’d have to cover her own hair, makeup, and wardrobe. And she wouldn’t be paid. And the event was to last three hours. Okay, it had several catches.
Earlier this week, she told Variety about getting the offer that she, in fact, could refuse. Why would an organization such as the Recording Academy feel comfortable approaching a celebrity with a pro-bono request, and why would that celebrity consider taking it on? The answer may lie in something Haddish told Variety:
“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.”
Ah, yes. Exposure. The resource that would be worth its weight in gold, if in fact it could be weighed. (Haddish, by the way, is up for Best Comedy Album for Black Mitzvah.) Variety reports that during the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony some 70 awards are handed out. (Only a fraction of the Grammys are actually handed out during the televised event.)
Recording Academy interim chief Harvey Mason Jr. confirmed Haddish’s account and expressed his “regret and displeasure for how this was handled” on Instagram.
“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,” he said. “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.” He recounted a conversation he had with Haddish in which he apologized and reiterated his apology in his video.
Variety reported that a Recording Academy rep pointed out that this Premiere Ceremony is not a CBS production but “is hosted by the Academy—a not-for-profit organization—and that all hosts, presenters, and performers have traditionally performed gratis, including this year.” The rep also noted that the situation would have no impact on any future nominations for Haddish.
To Variety, Haddish said, “This is something that needs to be addressed. 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.”
To answer Haddish’s question: A lot, apparently!