Joanne Fowler
February 11, 2005 05:00 PM

Queen Latifah couldn’t let 6,000 miles or a movie production come between her and the Grammys, so the host of this year’s ceremony is flying in from Prague – and shutting down the set of her romantic comedy The Last Holiday – just for the occasion. Latifah, 34, who will also perform a number from her nominated The Dana Owens Album, recently chatted with PEOPLE about her own Grammy predictions and how she plans to beat the jet lag.

So, who’s your pick for the album of the year?
As much as I think the other artists have fantastic albums, creatively equal, Usher has been such a huge success overall, and people received that album so well, they are going to be hard-pressed to get that award out of his hands.

Was it hard to persuade your producers to let you take the break? Did you come up with a great sob story?
There’s no sob story, only excitement. I am hosting the Grammys and these guys got to make it happen. It is pretty much that simple. ? Truth be told, I think the crew can use a little break. They’re thanking me already.

You’ll be facing some serious jet lag.
Trust me, the energy of being in Los Angeles is going to make it all beautiful for me. I’ve been craving some sunshine and any temperatures above 50 degrees. So as soon as I get that, I am going to be fine.

What was it like to plan from a distance? Have you been trying out jokes over the fax?
I am not a comedienne, so I’m not going to be rewriting a bunch of jokes. But I will tell them when I think it’s corny.

Have you devoted a part of each day to the Grammys, or just put it out of your mind?
I’ve been quietly devoting time to the Grammys. When I get off (the set), I am all about listening to the music, getting it into my head, imagining the stage, feeling comfortable enough with the song. I am singing in the shower and I got a humidifier put in my room, so hopefully my voice will be comfortable and soothed because we are in kind of a little bit of a harsh environment.

What about your wardrobe?
The person who usually dresses me, Susan Moses, is here (in Prague), so we’ve been looking at sketches. I have about six or eight outfits, but I’m not going to wear that many. I’ll probably wear just three different outfits and maybe one to perform in.

Can you talk a little bit about the dresses or any themes you’re trying to evoke?
Bradley Bayou for Halston is making a couple of outfits, beautiful corseted blouses and slacks in beautiful colors. Dolce and Gabbana are also making me some things. Then there is a really sexy, shoulderless, sleeveless jacket. I am feeling very much like a woman, so I am going to share a little bit of it. Beautiful shoulders, maybe some legs and nice cleavage.

And has your costar Steve Martin (Bringing Down the House) given any good tips on how to host an awards show?
Oh, I’ve been around the block a few times so I think I am all right. I’ve hosted the Soul Train awards, the American Music Awards … and I had my own talk show. So if I can’t host by now, what the hell can I do?

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