Grammy gab: Eminem loses his cojones

So much for all the hype. This year’s 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, played it safe. And rapper Eminem, who took home three Grammys, just played it cool. Maybe it was the Marshall Mathers controversy that helped prompt the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to give the Album of the Year award to long-in-the-tooth jazz-rock band Steely Dan for its album Two Against Nature. Even the Dan’s Donald Fagen seemed completely caught off guard: “I want to get out of here really fast just in case they change their minds and take it back,” he quipped to reporters.

Outside, a few of Eminem’s fans enjoyed a spirited debate with the nearly 70 gay protesters, who picketed the rapper’s Grammy appearance. At times it seemed the activists were almost as mad at Elton John for performing a duet of “Stan” with Eminem as they were with Eminem. But some of the rapper’s fans felt he may have jeopardized his already diminishing street cred by refusing to pop off to protesters. “He didn’t flip anybody off, moon anybody or anything,” said LeVaughn Chambers, a self-professed fan. “What’s up with that?”

Meow mix: All eyes were fixed on Destiny’s Child members Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams when they arrived on the red carpet—and not just because of their slinky, revealing outfits. Former Destiny’s Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were fired from the group last year, but showed up at the Grammys anyway. Apparently, tensions are still pretty thick between the rival camps. A diva catfight would have made great television, but they all seemed to keep their distance. However, it did seem odd that when the TV gossip show Entertainment Tonight interviewed the group’s current members before their Grammy wins (Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal, Best R&B Song for “Say My Name”), they told ET there was nothing but love for the former members. However, when another reporter asked if their win was also for their former groupmates, Knowles quickly dissed him with an emphatic “next question.”

If this hadn’t been the Grammy year for all things Eminem, perhaps that little, sidesplitting number Toni Braxton was wearing may have garnered more attention. “I swear I didn’t wear it to give Jennifer Lopez a run for her money,” laughed Braxton, who snagged the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “He Wasn’t Man Enough.” Braxton admitted the $3,400 Richard Tyler dress required plenty of duct tape to keep “the cousins” secured.

Our local Grammy entries—Deftones, who beat out Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson, Pantera and Slipknot for Best Metal Performance Grammy, and Vacaville group Papa Roach—were nowhere to be found. With all that glitz, and with Eminem rapidly going the way of Vanilla Ice, who can blame them for beating a hasty retreat?