NEW YORK — The executive producer of Sunday's Billboard Music Awards is defending the decision to have Madonna pay homage to Prince, which has been met with some criticism online and sparked a Change.org petition.
"Listen, I think everybody is entitled to their opinion and everyone can have their own opinion, but I will say that we are honored and could not be more excited for Madonna to be on the show and to pay tribute to someone that was her friend and her peer and her colleague," Mark Bracco said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I think it's going to be fantastic."
Madonna and Prince collaborated on "Love Song" from Madonna's 1989 album, "Like a Prayer." Bracco didn't say what song Madonna would perform, but said her tribute would be "really beautiful."
"It's going to be very, very intimate and very respectful, and I think it's something that is really going to pay tribute to Prince as the incredible, groundbreaking artist that he was and the influence that he had on music," he said.
After the initial announcement earlier this month, a Change.org petition was launched. Some argued that Madonna should not be the sole artist honoring Prince and that other musicians who were closely aligned to him should be involved as well. Others complained that a black artist should be involved in a tribute to The Purple One.
Bracco said that after Prince died on April 21, the show's producers brainstormed ways to honor his legacy. And then Madonna's folks called.
"Honestly her team gave a call and inquired about what we might be thinking about and it led to many conversations about what would she want to do and how would we want to shape it creatively," he said. "And after everyone (got) comfortable with exactly what the direction was, we all collectively wanted to go into Madonna, that she would do this and she has been very, very involved in how this will all unfold creatively."
Prince was found dead in his suburban Minneapolis home at age 57. Madonna is also 57.
The Billboard Awards will air live at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Other performers include Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Pink, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, the Go-Go's, Nick Jonas, Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Tove Lo, Troye Sivan and Lukas Graham.