CBS, Lifetime bet on Whitney Houston specials
It's raining Whitney Houston memorials!
Two days after Lifetime announced that it bought a one-hour Houston special “Remembering Whitney” — and about seven months after Houston's death — CBS announced that it will air a one-hour Houston special, “We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston,” during the November sweeps.
Lifetime's special boasts never-before-seen family photos and “candid insights” from Houston family members; those same relatives are starring in Lifetime's new family reality series “The Houstons: On Our Own,” debuting days later.
Meanwhile, CBS' Houston special will feature performances by Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson and Usher, with more names to come.
Put your money on those names belonging to music stars who have albums to sell during the holiday season.
CBS' special is being done with the Recording Academy, which owns not only the Grammy Awards, but also, arguably, the Houston “death story” — what with her having died on the eve of the Grammy Awards, while getting ready to attend the Grammys' biggest pre-ceremony bash, put on every year by record-industry mogul Clive Davis.
Houston's death, hours before the live Grammycast, turned that trophy show into a weep-fest for the pop star. Almost 40 million people tuned in to watch the music industry lay its heart at the feet of its fallen heroine — the Grammys' biggest audience in nearly three decades.
CBS' newly announced Houston special will include highlights from her career and never-before-seen footage and interviews, as well as artists sharing their memories of her.
CBS' special may look like a throwback to the days when musical specials during sweeps were standard — who can forget CBS' Jackson Five reunion special that aired during the November '01 sweeps period and that copped almost 30 million viewers?
But it's part of a trend in which networks — as they try to hang on to hot trophy shows — wind up agreeing also to buy a couple of Shoulder Shows from the academy that owns the trophy show.
The academy winds up collecting even more cash for owning a hot trophy show, and the network gets to file the expense under TV Special, instead of Trophy Show Stupid Money.
ABC, for instance, is on the hook to air “CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock” — and did so again earlier this month — as a sort of early reminder to viewers that the CMA Awards will take place during the November sweeps period. And, that you can catch it on ABC.
That network is also on the hook for a CMA Christmas special. It's all part of ABC's 10-year deal to air the Country Music Association's CMA Awards, signed last year.
CBS, for its part, has aired a Grammy nomination announcement special since 2008 as part of its arrangement to hang on to the Grammy Awards.
Shoulder Shows tend to be cooperative efforts between the network and the academy in question, and they're scheduled at a time that meets both parties' needs.
CBS' new Houston special helps the Recording Academy get into the Christmas album-plugging TV-special business.
CBS, in return, gets a November sweeps special — although it has scheduled the Houston tribute on a Friday night, suggesting that CBS does not necessarily think this one's going to be a ratings barnburner.
Lisa de Moraes is a staff writer for The Washington Post.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Commentary: Grateful economics are Dead as fans pay through the nose
- Jerry Garcia tribute concert set for May
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is planning a summer to remember
- Busy performer Ariana Grande brings show to Petersen Events Center
- McLachlan brings audience into her new emotional space
- Zac Brown Band has new album, tour this spring
- Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite’ soars high for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
- Kelly Clarkson to play First Niagara Pavilion on July 19
- Pittsburgh native Evancho’s musical maturation keeps pace with life
- Shania’s first tour in 11 years includes Pittsburgh stop
- Recording engineer from Carnegie molds music into form, clients say