2012 Kennedy Center Honors Announced
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Posted by: ISPA
ISPA Member Organization The John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced their 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. This year the Kennedy Center will honor seven artists; an actor, a ballerina, a blues musician, a TV host and some legendary rockers. To learn more about the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, read the article published in the Washington Post on September 12th by Lonnae O'Neal Parke. Click here to read the original article the Washington Post.
Actor Dustin Hoffman, whose career has included some of the most wide-ranging and memorable roles in film history, and bluesman George "Buddy” Guy,
who began playing "before the guitar was electrified” and picked his
way to worldwide legendary status, are among the seven artists who will
receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
The 35th-anniversary honorees announced Wednesday include comedian and late-night TV host David Letterman; ballerina Natalia Makarova; and keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, all of rock band Led Zeppelin.
"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,” Kennedy Center Chairman
David M. Rubenstein said.
The breadth of Hoffman’s roles "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,” Rubenstein said. Makarova,
71, who left her native Russia in 1970 and that year debuted in the
title role of "Giselle” with the American Ballet Theatre, "has ignited
the stages of the world’s greatest ballet companies and continues to
pass the torch to the next generation of dancers.” The members of
heavy-metal pioneer Led Zeppelin, who are all in their 60s, "transformed
the sound of rock-and-roll with their lyricism and innovative song
And Guy, 76, a six-time Grammy winner, "has
influenced virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in
the last half-century,” Rubenstein said.
In a phone interview, Guy
said that upon hearing he’d been named an honoree: "My daughter brought
it to me, and I think she’s joking, you know.”
He added: "I like
sucking things in, so this is exciting for me. I’m very emotional. I’m
probably going to sit there and keep a handkerchief right there. I don’t
have a high school education, and it’s a long way from pickin’ cotton
and pickin’ a guitar.”
Used to be, Guy said, that a bluesman hoped
to play well enough so that a pretty girl liked him at the end of the
night. "But even if she fell for you, you didn’t make enough to get a
room,” he said, laughing.
"The guitar didn’t take you places until the British guys got a hold
of it. That’s what opened the door for us,” he added, crediting the
Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, among others, for bringing the music
international attention and exposure. He doesn’t want to call names, but
he said that he hopes some of the old heads and the Brits might be
onstage at the Honors.
Guy was reached on tour in New Brunswick,
N.J., and if there is a theme for the Kennedy Center Honors this year,
it perhaps is the notion of artists at work, plying their crafts at a
point in their careers where they could rest on their laurels.
This extends to Kennedy Center Honors co-creator and American Film Institute founder George Stevens Jr., who is receiving an honorary Oscar
on the same night as this year’s State Department dinner for honorees,
hosted by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton — a day before the Dec. 2
Kennedy Center Honors gala that he and his son Michael are
Stevens, 80, who calls the Oscar "a nice surprise,” joked that he’s
talking with the "cloning division” of the National Institutes of Health
to figure out how he’s going to be in two extraordinarily important
places at once.
Stevens said that after more than three decades since he began
producing the show, expectations for the Kennedy Center Honors, which
airs Dec. 26 as a prime-time special on CBS, continue to grow.
"It’s daunting up until the time you get [the honorees], and then all
sorts of opportunities open up and it’s our job to find inventive ways
to recognize these people that will please the audience,” he said.
"That’s the fun of doing it.”
Reached by phone at the Toronto
International Film Festival, where his directorial debut film,
"Quartet,” is gaining buzz, Hoffman said that he thought perhaps the
honor might come around when he was 90. Not, say, for the body of work he has amassed, which includes best actor Academy Awards for "Kramer vs. Kramer” and "Rain Man,” or for his roles in "The Graduate, ” "Death of a Salesman,” "Midnight Cowboy,” "Tootsie,” "All the President’s Men,” "Marathon Man” and on and on.
Hoffman, 75, is driven, intense and famously contemplative about the
human condition, talk of the Honors becomes an impassioned meditation on
worthiness, aging and creative imperatives.
"You want me to be
honest?” Hoffman asked. "Part of you is honored, and the other part of
you feels like they are eulogizing you. You’ve gotta make sure that you
remind yourself that it ain’t over. They should call it a
The benefit of being named an
honoree is that you get to customize the meaning of the Honors, which
for Hoffman is about embracing failure.
"I will never give up
taking risks,” he said. "If you’re drawn to something and there’s a risk
of failure and you never let that stop you, I think you don’t go wrong.
You look back on your life and whether it’s in your work, or not, it’s
the failures that most define you.”
The other Hoffman takeaway?
"Revenge.” Honors beat obscurity and irrelevance, "but the aim is to
keep going and keep growing. That’s the only revenge you have on this
thing called mortality. I’m talking to you honestly.”
It’s like saying to God, "Oh, that’s what you’ve got in mind for me? It’s a validation, hopefully, on what you’re doing.” And not just what you’ve done.
The Kennedy Center Honors Gala will be Dec. 2. Footage will air Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS.