- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 23, 2003

Iraq may prove to be the big star at tonight's Grammy awards, broadcast live at 8 p.m. on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Contrary to rumor, the network will not attempt to silence any anti-war statements from singers, songwriters, musicians and assorted artistes as they parade onstage to accept the nation's most coveted music awards.
"No one at CBS or the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has imposed restrictions on artistic expression during performances or on opinions expressed during acceptance speeches," CBS spokesman Chris Ender told The Washington Times on Friday.
"While this is first and foremost entertainment, we're also in a country built on free speech," he continued. "Sometimes it can make for some unpredictable moments."
Indeed.
Some press reports have Grammy officials bracing for anti-war invective from the honorees. The online Drudge Report said Friday that CBS executives were prepared to silence the microphones of music stars preoccupied with politics.
Pro-peace talk is particularly anticipated from singer Bruce Springsteen, nominated for five Grammys. MSNBC has described him as a "stalwart of the populist left and a rallying point for the anti-war movement."
Mr. Springsteen is not shy about expressing himself. During a recent concert in Berlin, he introduced his 1984 classic song, "Born in the USA," by telling his audience, "I wrote this song about the Vietnam War. I want to do it for you tonight for peace."
Will Mr. Springsteen politely accept his award or "share his thoughts on the approaching war?" the Los Angeles Times asked yesterday.
"The guess is here that he will comment on the nation's state. … If Springsteen does express his views, not everyone will be pleased. Some believe award show podiums should be politics-free zones," the Times said.
Meanwhile, other musical performers have joined the high-profile celebrity race to protest looming U.S. military strikes on Iraq. Groups such as the Massachusetts-based Musicians for Peace, in fact, have been circulating a petition that "lets it be known we do not support this war. … We are not afraid to make noise."
Tonight's Grammy awards show should have its share of dissent if Britain's Brit Awards is a predictor of such things.
Female rap singer Ms Dynamite entertained the Brit Awards audience Thursday night with a specially written anti-war song sung to "Faith," George Michael's 1987 hit.
"We've been here before, talk of violence and talk of war," she sang. "I don't wanna see children die no more. So I've gotta make a stand."
British rocker Chris Martin told the audience, "We are all going to die when George Bush has his way. But at least we are going to go out with a bang."
Meanwhile, Lee Ryan of the British band Blue has asked singers Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Pink and others to collaborate on "Stand Up As People," an anti-war tune that Mr. Ryan, 19, wrote last year.
Regardless of the political leanings of tonight's Grammy nominees, the New York City Police Department is ready. An 800-member security force will be on hand to look after the stars and glitterati.
"Police said event staff will include a number of officers working counterterrorism," Newsday reported Friday. "Among them will be highly visible 'Hercules' unit officers, equipped in protective gear and carrying submachine guns."


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