Inside 2018 the Grammys and its return to New York

When Grammy host James Corden looks out from the stage at Madison Square Garden Sunday night, he'll face a front row of star power including Jerry Seinfeld, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Elton John and Lady Gaga.

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Inside the historic arena on Thursday afternoon, production crews tweaked lighting, cables were taped and ripped up along the floor, seating placards were straightened and the announcer practiced stage introductions for Sunday’s ceremony.

Credit: Mark Von Holden

Credit: Mark Von Holden

Along with its milestone anniversary, this year's Grammy Awards show is special because of its return to New York for the first time in 15 years. Throughout its history, the show routinely split its staging between the city and Los Angeles, until a feud between former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and then-Recording Academy President Michael Greene in the late 1990s disrupted that harmony.

Related: Grammy Awards 2018: What time, what channel, who is nominated, who will perform

The last New York appearance, in 2003, also marked the first year of Recording Academy presidency for Neil Portnow, a Long Island native.

“It’s exciting,” Portnow said Thursday of the return to his hometown. “It feels like a full circle.”

Portnow, speaking on the red carpet leading into Madison Square Garden, said that, while it’s easy to fall into a routine when a major event is held annually in the same place, he was pleased with the logistical preparations for Sunday’s ceremony.

“When you go anyplace new and you’re starting from scratch, and in the midst of a city like New York, there are many challenges. But we started on Monday and everything is rolling,” he said.

Related: Grammys give R&B and hip hop some shine with 2018 nominations

The show airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS. Portnow said that the myriad performances will complement the “social consciousness that comes from the artists.”

“We are a platform for artists to express whatever is on their minds,” he said, “and every given year, whatever the music may be is a reflection of what is happening. You’ll see a lot of that on the stage in a musical way.”

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