Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kennedy Center Honors -- Including David Letterman and Dustin Hoffman --Tonight on CBS

The Kennedy Center Honors, which will be broadcast tonight on CBS, may be the nation's biggest lifetime achievement awards for distinguished careers in the performing arts. Honors have been given out annually since 1978, with my favorite, Fred Astaire, part of the very first class of celebrated artists.

Who picks the honorees? It's the Board of Trustees for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, with input from previous winners and a committee composed of "national artists." Honorees from the past represent a Who's Who of American entertainment, with everyone from George Abbott to Stevie Wonder, from Marian Anderson to Tennessee Williams, from Roy Acuff to Oprah Winfrey, included.

The 2012 recipients are blues musician Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, TV's David Letterman, Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova, and John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who are the members of rock band Led Zeppelin. They were celebrated earlier in December with a gala at the Kennedy Center Opera House and the presentation of medallions by President Obama and the First Lady. The Honors Gala performances were recorded and will be broadcast tonight on CBS stations. Locally, they're scheduled for 8 pm on Peoria's WMBD.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein describes the honorees: "With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world. Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin Hoffman's unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation; David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm; Natalia Makarova's profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world's greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers; and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands."

You can find information about the Kennedy Center Honors in general here, see the list of past honorees here, and watch video highlighting previous Honors shows here.

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