At high-volume Grammys, a secret wedding was kept quiet

Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:47am EST
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It took an idea, a casting service and dozens of people keeping a secret for organizers of music's Grammy Awards to pull off one of Sunday's biggest surprises at the annual ceremony.

Thirty-three couples, some of whom were same-sex partners, were married at once during the performance of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' pro-gay rights song, "Same Love," giving the awards show a heavyweight emotional and political punch.

The marriages were officiated by Queen Latifah, and Madonna - dressed in a white suit with a matching white cowboy hat and cane - made a surprise appearance to accompany the song's featured singer, Mary Lambert.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of Grammy organizer The Recording Academy, said he was proud of the ceremony, calling it "elegant, powerful and meaningful as we wanted it to be."

"So many of our ideas come from the creative community, from our artists," Portnow told reporters after the Grammys. "These folks wrote an incredible song. They have ideas about society and tolerance and fairness and that's their message."

Portnow said organizers treated it like any other performance with dozens of extras by hiring a casting service to find couples willing to wed during a hip-hop song and on television in front of tens of millions of people.

But one of the biggest achievements may have been keeping the wedding a secret until Sunday.

"They'll (casting agents) speak with them. They'll see them. And then part of the discussion is that this is going to be a confidential process, and you hope that people will keep to that and fortunately they did," Portnow said.   Continued...

Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna, Ryan Lewis and Queen Latifah (L-R) perform "Same Love" at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California January 26, 2014. REUTERS/ Mario Anzuoni