The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of the seven individuals who will receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients to be honored at the 35th annual national celebration of the arts are: bluesman Buddy Guy, actor and director Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and rock band Led Zeppelin. While Led Zeppelin is being honored as a band, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant will each receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
“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,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “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.”
The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. On Sunday, December 2, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2012 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 1, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 35th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Wednesday, December 26 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
George Stevens, Jr. will produce and co-write the Honors for the 35th year. Stevens and his Honors producing partner, Michael Stevens, have received three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Television Special for the Honors and are nominated again for the sixth consecutive time. The Honors telecast has also been recognized with the Peabody Award and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America. Between them, the Stevenses have received 19 Emmy Awards and 51 nominations for their work in television. George Stevens will receive an Honorary Oscar from the Motion Picture Academy for his lifetime achievement in December. Nick Vanoff was co-creator of the Honors with George Stevens in 1978.
The Boeing Company is the exclusive underwriter of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Gala Luncheon and post-gala supper dance in the Grand Foyer.
Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the Kennedy Center Honors television broadcast, will provide transportation for the performers and television crew that will be coming to Washington for the Honors Gala.
The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts-whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television-are selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.
Past Honors recipients, as well as members of the Kennedy Center’s national artists committee, made recommendations of possible 2012 Honorees. Artists making recommendations included: Alan Alda, Joshua Bell, Stephen Colbert, Renée Fleming, Kris Kristofferson, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mark Morris, Lionel Richie, Frederica von Stade. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees, including Edward Albee, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kirk Douglas, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, and Oprah Winfrey, also made nominations.
Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser expressed the national cultural center’s continued gratitude to the many individuals involved in the success of the Honors program. “In addition to recognizing some of the world’s most treasured artists, the Kennedy Center Honors supports a wide variety of artistic programming, as well as the Center’s educational and national outreach efforts.”