After actor Tiffany Haddish told Variety that she had been invited to host the Grammy Awards Premiere ceremony but turned down the offer after being told that she would have to pay her own way, Recording Academy interim chief Harvey Mason, Jr. posted a public apology on social media, and said that he had apologized to her personally as well. Mason, who took the job on an interim basis last January, said that he had been unaware of the offer and the conversation.
"It's just been brought to my attention that the Recording Academy invited Tiffany Haddish to host this year's Premiere ceremony," a tired-looking Mason said in an Instagram message posted in the wee hours of Thursday morning. "Unfortunately and without me 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.
"To me that was wrong," he continued. "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. I know what that feels like, and it's not right," added Mason, who is a veteran songwriter, producer and musician.
"Thankfully, Ms. Haddish was gracious enough to allow me to have a conversation with her. I apologized to her personally, I apologized from the Academy, and I expressed to her my regret and my displeasure about how this went down and how it was handled. Again, I want to say," he concluded, "Tiffany, we are sorry and thank you for allowing me to speak on it."
Haddish told Variety earlier this week that she had been asked to host the three-hour livestreamed event without any compensation, and also that she would have to cover her own hair, makeup and wardrobe expenses.
"All of that would have to come out of my pocket," she said, adding, "I don't know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it's disrespectful."
She continued, "I was like, 'The exposure is amazing but I think I have enough. I appreciate you guys asking,' as much as I appreciate the honor of being nominated, that's not OK. 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."
Contacted by Variety, a rep for the Recording Academy noted that the Premiere ceremony is not a CBS program and 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.
Haddish is nominated for her second Grammy this year for best comedy album for Netflix's "Black Mitzvah" following her first nom last year for spoken word for "The Last Black Unicorn." The 63rd Grammys will take place Jan. 31, 2021.