CREATIVITY TO THE RESCUE (Read time 2:07) I love watching (and critiquing) the Grammys, and like many of you, I’ve been fortunate to be invited to the ceremony many times over the years. This year’s show was obviously the most anticipated because of the devastating, sad passing of Whitney Houston. However, the following is one of the many behind-the-scenes stories that folks shared with me over the weekend—one that didn’t make it to the front page of HUFFPO or the prime time of CNN. Imagine the scene at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on the day before the Grammys. It’s only 19 hours until show time and the giant indoor arena is now filled with hundreds of production workers in a melee of organized chaos: lighting crews, grips, sound engineers, camera operators, set carpenters, painters, choreographers, costumers, etc. Plus, scripts are getting the final edits, teleprompters are being tested, camera angles are being set, cues from audio techs are getting locked in, and artists are right in the middle of rehearsing and perfecting their precious 3-minute segment. Nothing but excitement and enthusiasm fills the room. Suddenly the news about Whitney begins to spread through the entire arena and the mood quickly changes. First question on every ones mind, “how will this affect the show?” (Of course across town there’s another drama unfolding at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which is being broadcast on nearly every network.) However at the Staples Center the big question still remains, “how is this going to affect a LIVE telecast with 25 million viewers?” At this point the CBS suits and the Grammy brass collide (behind closed doors, away from the press) on what to do next. The big question: “How do we insert a heartful and acceptable “tribute” to Whitney into an already tight schedule, without offending anyone or concerning the advertisers at this late date? Plus, they were missing the reliable proven leadership of John Cossette who produced the previous 20 Grammy telecasts, and sadly passed away earlier this year.  So who did they turn to when the challenge got big and the risks got huge? The “Creatives” that’s who! The writers, performers, musicians, sound engineers, designers, editors, producers, programmers, etc. They were the ones who had to work together (through the night) to re-write, re-light, re-direct, re-time and re-invent the broadcast to accommodate the sudden challenge of the tragedy. Thank God for the talented, creative artists, because the VP’s, CEO’s, financiers, advertisers and investors cannot produce a movie, a record, a book, a television commercial, or a Grammy telecast without them. But that’s what the “creative pros” in this business do. When the challenges arise, the first thing they naturally do is access the field of ALL possibilities. It’s in the DNA of all creative types; they live for this kind of moment! Those that don’t understand call it “winging it,” but it’s not that at all. It’s really innovation at its best. Turning dross into gold, lemons into lemonade. If there were a rule book for these sorts of calamities, the suits would surely follow it. But there’s not. It was the creative, crazy geniuses (many employed by both the Grammy organization and CBS television, and many of whom are my readers), who had to pull a rabbit out of a hat on Sunday. And given the unique emotional circumstances, I think they pulled it off beautifully. Isn’t this why we’re attracted to this business in the first place? Because deep down inside we thrive on the risks, the uncertainty, the pure creativity. Heck, to the pro artist & entrepreneur EVERYDAY is a Live TV show! That’s why it’s good to remind each other every so often, that as artists & entrepreneurs, when a huge challenge suddenly steps out on to the path in front you, (whether it’s suddenly re-writing a live 3-hour TV show, or figuring out how to pay your rent), you have the gift of creativity and invention. And while others frantically search for an imaginary rule book, the pro artist & entrepreneur confidently uses imagination, ingenuity and intuition to access the field of all possibilities. Think about that the next time you or your impossible projects are faced with unexpected calamity.
J Michael Dolan

CREATIVITY TO THE RESCUE (Read time 2:07)

I love watching (and critiquing) the Grammys, and like many of you, I’ve been fortunate to be invited to the ceremony many times over the years. This year’s show was obviously the most anticipated because of the devastating, sad passing of Whitney Houston. However, the following is one of the many behind-the-scenes stories that folks shared with me over the weekend—one that didn’t make it to the front page of HUFFPO or the prime time of CNN.

Imagine the scene at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on the day before the Grammys. It’s only 19 hours until show time and the giant indoor arena is now filled with hundreds of production workers in a melee of organized chaos: lighting crews, grips, sound engineers, camera operators, set carpenters, painters, choreographers, costumers, etc. Plus, scripts are getting the final edits, teleprompters are being tested, camera angles are being set, cues from audio techs are getting locked in, and artists are right in the middle of rehearsing and perfecting their precious 3-minute segment. Nothing but excitement and enthusiasm fills the room.

Suddenly the news about Whitney begins to spread through the entire arena and the mood quickly changes. First question on every ones mind, “how will this affect the show?” (Of course across town there’s another drama unfolding at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, which is being broadcast on nearly every network.) However at the Staples Center the big question still remains, “how is this going to affect a LIVE telecast with 25 million viewers?” At this point the CBS suits and the Grammy brass collide (behind closed doors, away from the press) on what to do next. The big question: “How do we insert a heartful and acceptable “tribute” to Whitney into an already tight schedule, without offending anyone or concerning the advertisers at this late date? Plus, they were missing the reliable proven leadership of John Cossette who produced the previous 20 Grammy telecasts, and sadly passed away earlier this year.
 
So who did they turn to when the challenge got big and the risks got huge? The “Creatives” that’s who! The writers, performers, musicians, sound engineers, designers, editors, producers, programmers, etc. They were the ones who had to work together (through the night) to re-write, re-light, re-direct, re-time and re-invent the broadcast to accommodate the sudden challenge of the tragedy. Thank God for the talented, creative artists, because the VP’s, CEO’s, financiers, advertisers and investors cannot produce a movie, a record, a book, a television commercial, or a Grammy telecast without them.

But that’s what the “creative pros” in this business do. When the challenges arise, the first thing they naturally do is access the field of ALL possibilities. It’s in the DNA of all creative types; they live for this kind of moment! Those that don’t understand call it “winging it,” but it’s not that at all. It’s really innovation at its best. Turning dross into gold, lemons into lemonade. If there were a rule book for these sorts of calamities, the suits would surely follow it. But there’s not. It was the creative, crazy geniuses (many employed by both the Grammy organization and CBS television, and many of whom are my readers), who had to pull a rabbit out of a hat on Sunday. And given the unique emotional circumstances, I think they pulled it off beautifully.

Isn’t this why we’re attracted to this business in the first place? Because deep down inside we thrive on the risks, the uncertainty, the pure creativity. Heck, to the pro artist & entrepreneur EVERYDAY is a Live TV show! That’s why it’s good to remind each other every so often, that as artists & entrepreneurs, when a huge challenge suddenly steps out on to the path in front you, (whether it’s suddenly re-writing a live 3-hour TV show, or figuring out how to pay your rent), you have the gift of creativity and invention. And while others frantically search for an imaginary rule book, the pro artist & entrepreneur confidently uses imagination, ingenuity and intuition to access the field of all possibilities.

Think about that the next time you or your impossible projects are faced with unexpected calamity.

COMMENTS


Posted By paa
ssss
this is good


Posted By Teena
creativity saves the day
Thank you Olivia for your feed back...and thank you J.Michael for your creative insight...This has encouraged me to be myself and wait for the doors to open up for me to express myself for myself...its been a long time coming in a town where the venue opportunities are open to certain genres and the rest just get left behind...Its in my DNA I cant help but be a dreamer, a visionary, a creator, a giver of my God given talents.. I thank God for Whitney Houston allowing us to sore through her voice as a gift to the world...


Posted By Rachel
Creativity from the heart
Very moving Michael. When people are creative, and have heart, like Whitney, it stays with us and moves us to a deeper place . Creativity and heart. Thank you Michael . Rachel


Posted By John Crokolis
Suits are Creative too... in some way ;-)
The high rank suits at Whitney's record label and iTunes executives managed to rise the price of all her songs up to 60% more "in less than an hour" since the sad news were announced. And that was during a weekend... That's creativity too.


Posted By steffon Moody
Pressure
Thank goodness for spontanaeity! It revitalizes the tendency towards the systematic and formulaic. And thanks for being a champion of the creative path.


Posted By David Levin
Creatives vs Suits?
I love lifting up creativity and innovation, and I especially appreciate the spirit you bring, Michael, to doing that. We've all experienced how creatives are consistently undervalued. So it feels great to lift our work up and give it the recognition it too rarely gets. At the same time, if I may say, I'm a little uncomfortable doing it at the expense of others. Especially when those others are our partners. It's true that the "suits" couldn't produce their show without us. But isn't it also true that there wouldn't BE a show without them? It seems to me that the Us vs Them impulse - though I've felt it myself for much of my life - doesn't ultimately lift ANY of us up. The better path is to rise above that, do great work, and honor the contribution EVERYONE makes. I'm sure you have that in your heart, or you wouldn't have been the success you have. Just wanted to point a little love to the other side, too. :-)


Posted By Dan W
Well Said
Insightful commentary on an inspiring event. One could sense that creative DNA buzzing throughout the show. Although any artform could have made a fine intro, I found LLCoolJ's opening prayer--written by him, sometime within that 19-hour window (according to the producer on the news the day after)--to be a singularly artful, heartfelt use of words to set the tone for the entire evening.


Posted By Aspen Pittman
the creatives
Well said pal. You could see the impact of her life in so many of the segments, yet nothing looked "rewritten" or contrived. I was thinking "miracle" while watching, knowing the challenges involved, and how quickly this show evolved from "another Grammy show" into something historic. You could cut the love with a knife, it was still so soon and so real for everyone concerned. And the impact of those tribute segments was magnified because we were all lost in reflections from the start of the show. And yet, our "troupers" got it done, while looking natural, as usual. This year's Grammy deserves an Emmy!


Posted By virrich
Creative Epicenter
Always useful, encouraging, gentle and thoughtful. Thank you.


Posted By Cowboy Surfer
Thriving under Pressure
As you stated so eloquently, the true essence of creativity is thriving under pressure. The same guts and determination that allows the true artist to get up on stage in front of a large audience is the same pressure that the show organizers fraced last night and overcame with positive energy. They faced the demons and came out shining like a crazy diamond! Thanks for bringing this to light. May we all face our fears in the same manner and shine brightly. Allow yourself to be Cowboy Wild...and Surfer Free!


Posted By Michael Warner
Creatives
Dear Michael - I'm learning that you like to "lift" people. This article is a real boost to "creatives" in your suggestion that it is a way of life. Beautifully written. Also not forgetting the most magnificently beautiful Whitney at the core of this discussion. Loved you Whitney.


Posted By thomas
Creativity
Well said. The 'suits' vs the talent. We lowly creative people. I like the idea that creativity is not limited to my guitar and pen. I am very creative in every aspect of my life. A lot of people call it volatility - chaos - disorganized - I call it home. I (and most creatives) live in the center of that place where mortals fear to tread - the virtuous unknown maelstrom. Thanks for recognizing the extremely practical, measurable (in dollars) results of creative endeavor.


Posted By Gunnar
Grammys
BEST PRODUCTION JOB EVER THIS YEAR!


Posted By Anita Rich
Creativity to the Rescue
Michael your input and fabulous writing style is a pleasure to read. You expressed so clearly what many of us only dared ponder.I have often called myself a problem solver and you lit an aha moment for me personally.I so loved Whitney and I am coached by a company where she sings the Star Spangled Banner at all our retreats on a big screen. She will be missed and the Creatives at the Grammys will live on to pave the path for the many talents and other creatives to come.


Posted By Olivia
Creativity saves the day
J.Michael, this is SO beautifully expressed...thank you for YOUR creativity! When you think of the Grammys as the biggest acknowledgment of creativity in the Music World, then in your blog,you recognize creativity in the shadows pulling together this big production, you recognize how crucial it really is. It is our hearts and souls that MUST create or else our world would be one big machine, and it ISN"T! (no matter what the machine says). When you think that even Taylor Swift wrote a song ("Mean")about everyone who discouraged her, told her she had no talent, then the "mean" ones were absorbed into the machine. MEANwhile, she believed in her own creative talent and persisted, and again we see how crucial creativity is. I can't imagine life without Taylor Swift. Creativity is part of our DNA, and we "creatives" not only feed other souls, but we preserve and grow hearts-- Like Whitney's. Creativity was God-given, pouring thru her, selecting her spirit and her vocal cords to express itself. So many lessons here.

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• EVERY SINGLE DAY (Read time 0:51)
• The New Marketing Dept. (Read time 0:23)
• O Captain! My Captain! (Read time 0:57)
• THE WORKHORSE AND THE FILLY (Read time 0:21)
• KEEP YOUR BOOTS MUDDY (Read time 0:37)
• When UR Best Effort Fails (Read time 0:29)
• STEEP CLIMB (Read time 0:27)
• SILENCE OF CHAMPIONS (Read time 1:13)
• WHY IT’S NOT WORKING (Read time 0:31)
• THE BUCK STOPS HERE (Read time 0:51)
• WE ALREADY TRIED THAT (Read Time 0:29)
• CHOOSE ONE (Read time 1:09)
• COMMIT NO PETTINESS
• LEGWORK (Read time 0:15)
• ARTISTS vs. ENTREPRENEURS (Read time 1:03)
• 5-YEAR SURPRISE! (Read time 0:43)
• MID-YEAR TO DO LIST (Read time 0:53)
• ALL IN (Read time 0:33)
• WHAT IF NOTHING CHANGES? (Read time 0:21)
• WADDA JACKASS! (Read time 1:07)
• WHAT ARE U SO AFRAID OF? (Read time 0:57)
• DON’T THINK! (Read time :31)
• Why incumbents rarely invent the future (Read time 1:13)
• THE BOX (Read time 0:33)
• STAND UP IN THE BOAT! (Read time 0:27)
• YOU’RE DREAM’N! (Read time 0:57)
• KNOWING (Read time 0:33)
• CONCEALED CONCERNS (Read time 0:47)
• TAMING THE $$$ BEAST (Read time 1:17)
• FAKING IT (Read time 0:17)
• STAYING POWER (Read time 0:47)
• 0:20 SECONDS OF INSANE COURAGE (Read time 0:51)
• GRASS (Read time 0:41)
• WITH BLOODY FINGERS I WRITE ON (read time 0:27)
• I'LL DO ANYTHING BUT THAT! (Read time 0:47)
• ASS ON THE LINE (Read time 1:37)
• MARKETING BLUES (Read time 0:47)
• THE LONG RUN (Read time 0:39)
• CREATIVITY TO THE RESCUE (Read time 2:07)
• THE RACER'S EDGE (Read time 0:41)
• NO WAY NO HOW! (Read time 0:27)
• THE SMART MONEY (Read time 0:25)
• YOU’RE CRAZY! (Read time 1:19)
• DANCING WITH YOUR DEVOTEES (Read time 0:39)
• LIBERTY!
• NO DOUBT (Read time 1:17)
• WHAT EVER YOU DO, DON'T TURN AROUND (read time :39)

2011 Posts:
• GRAND FINALE!
• 2-DOZEN WAYS TO MAKE 2012 BETTER!
• DEAR PRUDENCE (read time :43)
• COMPLAIN ALL YOU WANT! (read time :23)
• IMAGINE (read time :57)
• WEEKENDS (read time :33)
• PIXAR LETTER (read time 1:03)
• RESISTANCE CAN KILL (read time 1:37)
• AMATEURS vs. PROS (read time :57)
• REQUIEM FOR A HONEYMOON (read time 1:09)
• CAN YOU FEEL IT? (read time 1:47)
• BRANCUSI'S VICTORY CRY  (read time :57)
• SAIL AWAY (read time :43)
• ARTISTS RULE! (read time 1:23)
• USE IT OR LOSE IT (read time :53)
• START HERE (read time 1:27)
• UNCERTAINTY (read time 1:19)
• STOPPED BY CALAMITY (read time 1:37)
• ART (read time :57)
• AUDACIOUS & UNSTOPPABLE (read time 2:37)
• WRITERS BLOCK (read time 1:47)
• BLOW AWAY DISTRACTIONS (read time :31)
• WAY OF THE CREATIVE WARRIOR (read time :27)
• GOOD BYE LADY LUCK (read time 1:53)
• CONFIDENCE IS EVERYTHING (read time 1:23)
• DEADLINE OR DIE! (read time 1:53)
• THE WIZARDS CLOCK (Read time :47)
• CREATIVE PRIVACY (read time :43)
• THE KOBE IN ME (read time 1:13)
• READY, SET, GO! (read time :47)
• EVE OF DISTRACTION (read time 1:29)
• KEEP YOUR FEET UP! (read time 1:09)
• JUST ONE MORE FOOT (read time 1:57)
• MY MUSE DOESN'T CARE (read time :39)
• MISUNDERSTOOD (read time 1:19)
• DUMP IT! (read time 1:19)
• IS IT WORTH IT? (read time :49)
• THE 24 HOUR RULE (read time 2:21)
• MONK ON THE MOUNTIAN (read time: a lifetime)
• “IT” (read time 1:37)
• BORN TO SHOW (read time 3:37)
• THE STING OF REJECTION (read time 1:13)
• LESSON FROM A ROCK STAR (Read time 0:27)
• THUMB POWER (read time 1:59)
• EXPOSING THE WIZARD (read time (1:13)
• HEY, WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? (read time 1:37)
• THE WAITING WARRIOR (Read time 0:41)
• PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK (read time :57 sec)
• AUTONOMY HIGHWAY (read time :35 sec)
• LIMPIDITY (read time :45 sec)
• WHY I MEDITATE (read time 1:00 min)
• YOUR SHADOW AGENDA (Read time 0:59)
• WHY I SOLD MY BUSINESS (read time 6:33)
• BARENAKED PROBITY (read time 1:47 min)
• THE FANTASIES OF POSSIBILITY (read time 4:17 min)
• THE TUG OF WAR (read time 5:09 min)