>>> Eminem and elton take to grammy stage. Pat o'brien is standing by at grammy headquarters.
>> Hi, nancy. I'm pat o'brien. We are just moments away now from the 43rd annual grammy awards. All eyes are on staples center here in los angeles. Eminem and elton john have already rehearsed their controversial dues under extremely tight security. Nevertheless, we have details from the inside.
>> It grew in intensity from the first rehearsal to the fourth one we did. We only did four passes, and from one to the next to the next it even became more emotionally charged.
>> Reporter: That's grammy producer ken urlich describing sir elton john and bad boy rapper eminem's emotionally charged, locked-down grammy rehearsal that silenced the staples center. Only crew were allowed in as the duo rehearsed 'stan,' the harrowing song from eminem's nominated album of the year, 'the marshall mathers lp.' 'Access hollywood' has learned that madonna will open the grammys with elton and eminem's performance closing the show. Last night in hollywood, the clive davis pre-grammy gala, 'new york daily news' celebrity information machine mitchell fink talked about nabbing the first interview with elton regarding his controversial duet.
>> Elton john's people did not want him talking at all, but he couldn't contain himself, and he said he had no idea why people were getting so crazy about this duet. That he's going to do with eminem. He said it's just pop music. He's been a fan of this guy since the 'marshall mathers' album came out. And he said he's very excited to be working with him.
>> Reporter: But tension continues to mount around the most anticipated stage show in grammy history, as protestors spoke out last night at a town hall meeting sponsored by the gay and lesbian alliance against defamation.
>> Whether eminem is homophobic is not relevant. This is about his lyrics.
>> Do we want mass rape because somebody likes to put lyrics about rape and thinks it's funny and is only kidding?
>>> I certainly understand that eminem is being ironic and is satirical in some of his lyrics. However, 10 million record buyers are out there. I don't believe that 10 million youth are in on the joke.
>> Do you care about america?
>> This event i wish more people have come to it. But the fact is at the end of the day both we and glaad looked at each other and went, you know this is good.
>> Reporter: Meanwhile, across town at the rock the vote 2001 awards, openly gay musician melissa etheridge applauded the elton and eminem pairing.
>> I am so excited about it. I am an artist. I'm the last person on earth to say that someone can't sing, say, rap, do anything because it's controversial.
>> Reporter: And despite eminem's biting remarks about 'n sync, lead singer justin timberlake told us recently he agrees the rapper should take the stage grammy night.
>> It's fit that he performs. I think he made a statement just kind of speaking his mind and didn't take it seriously. Everybody made a bigger deal out of it than it really is.
>> Reporter: Also backing the bad boy of rap is singer toni braxton, who is nominated for two grammys.
>> Oh my god, I'm a huge fan. I'm a huge fan of his. I mean, I can understand how his lyrics can offend people, I really can. But I don't really concentrate on that.
>> And among other things, eminem is up for album of the year. A little later in this broadcast our critic will weigh in on that big race.
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