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Kennedy Centers Honors Announced

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America to Celebrate the Careers of Six Performing Arts Legends,

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Gala will be Broadcast on the CBS Network Later in December

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection, by its board of trustees, of the individuals who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2004. Recipients to be honored at the 27th annual national celebration of the arts are: actor, producer, writer and director Warren Beatty; husband-and-wife actors, writers and producers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; singer and composer Elton John; soprano Joan Sutherland; and composer and conductor John Williams.

“This year the Kennedy Center honors not the usual five but six extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. “They are a film artist whose talents are astonishingly diverse; a greatly revered couple of stage and screen; a pop music icon who also composes stunning musical film and theater scores; an operatic superstar of unsurpassed artistic achievement; and one of the most influential American composers of the past four decades.”

The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year. The 2004 Honorees will be saluted by stars from the world of the performing arts at a gala performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House on Sunday evening, December 5, to be attended by the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush, and by artists from around the world.

The President and the First Lady 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 on Sunday evening, December 5, prior to the gala performance. The Boeing Company is the exclusive underwriter of the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors Gala and weekend of events, which concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.

The Kennedy Center Honors will be bestowed the night before the gala on Saturday, December 4, at a State Department dinner, hosted by the Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Honors Gala will be taped for broadcast later in December on the CBS Network for the 27th consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special.

George Stevens, Jr., who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 27th consecutive year. The Honors telecast has been honored with five Emmy's for Outstanding Program as well as the Peabody Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television.

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. Boeing is proud to underwrite the Kennedy Center Honorees’ Luncheon and special events throughout the Kennedy Center Honors weekend.

The Honors recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts: whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television. 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.

Members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, as well as past Honorees, made recommendations of possible Honorees. Among the artists making recommendations were: Dan Aykroyd, Christine Baranski, Angela Bassett, Joshua Bell, Adrien Brody, Dave Brubeck, Cy Coleman, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Suzanne Farrell, Renee Fleming, Morgan Freeman, Rosemary Harris, Paloma Herrera, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nathan Lane, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Pinchas Zuckerman.

Michael M. Kaiser, President of the Center, expressed the Center’s gratitude to the many individuals involved in the success of the Honors program. “In addition to recognizing our most treasured artists, the Kennedy Center Honors Gala also extensively supports the many performing arts initiatives, education and public service programming, and national outreach efforts that make the Center’s presentations accessible to all.”

For more information, please visit www.kennedy-center.or

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Boy the Kennedy Center Honors is becoming more and more European! Not that they haven't always honored great foreign artist who have had huge success in America, but c'com. Sutherland and John? Great artists, no question and both have had huge success in this country. But when I think of them I think England, not America. If the Kennedy Center Honors wish to honor a great opera star why not Shirley Varrett or Grace Brumby; if they wish to honor a pop star why not Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen or Berry Gordy the founder of Motown Records?

Hollywood is always represented, but Warren Beatty? He's a great star - but that's the point, he's just a great star. Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep they too are great stars but they are also great artists. So may say that Beatty is more then a star, he's a producer, writer and director as well! Well then what about Woody Allen or what about Barbra Streisand? Their contribution along with Pacino, Hoffman and Streep is far greater then anything Beatty has done.

Love John Williams' film scores but to call him one of America's most influential composers of the last four decades is stretching it abit! Phillip Glass, Elliott Carter could have been better choices.

I have always love the Kennedy Center Honors and will continue to show it. But with the exception of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee this year's honorees could have been alot better and more American.

And yes Watermill both Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn was honored together back in 1986 along with Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Yehudi Menuhin and Antony Tudor. Now those was honorees worthy of the Kennedy Center Honors!!

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If the Kennedy Center Honors wish to honor a great opera star why not Shirley Varrett or Grace Brumby; if they wish to honor a pop star why not Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen or Berry Gordy the founder of Motown Records?

I think the Aussies will have more than a little objection to Sutherland being called English -- she's one of Down Under's cultural jewels. And if we're going to honor Joni Mitchell, we have to include all of the 51st state, that big land to our north :D

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Well.....I think you can justify the inclusion of Beatty. No, he’s not the world’s greatest actor, but he’s had a reasonably distinguished career as a producer, director, and writer. He’s also a good public citizen. Sure, Pacino is a better actor, but the last time I saw him collect an award he sounded totally whacked out, and I’m sure Warren will give a graceful speech. Also, he’ll bring Annette, and maybe a kid or two. In addition, honoring Beatty would please the late President Kennedy, who wanted Warren to play him in the PT 109 movie. (A far more appropriate choice than anyone realized at the time!) John Williams certainly qualifies – he has definitely been the most outstanding and influential composer for film in the last three decades (I prefer Howard Shore, myself, but it’s a matter of taste.)

They do tend to induct celebrity couples together – they did the same with Woodward and Newman. Very thoughtful of them to try to avoid potential marital discord. (They did induct Lynn Fontanne on her own, but Alfred Lunt was dead and so probably did not feel snubbed.) All of these couples worked together professionally, of course, but only Lunt and Fontanne really qualify as a true star team -- they worked only together and were indissolubly paired in the public mind as the others aren’t, quite.

I can’t see any good reason for including Sutherland. You can make a case for Domingo, who was honored awhile back, because as one of the Three Tenors he has done a great deal to popularize opera in this country, among other things. Sutherland was a great star, well known here, sang at the Met a lot, but it’s not the same thing. How about Phyllis Curtin? A fine and undercelebrated singer, a mainstay of City Opera in its early years, and it would be a nice compensation for losing Giulio Cesare to an earlier honoree, Beverly Sills. :D

And why no one from the world of dance?

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I'm handicapped by not remembering which film people have already been honored, but I have to say that Beatty seems like an odd choice. Some excellent work, and some really stilly stuff.

"(They did induct Lynn Fontanne on her own, but Alfred Lunt was dead and so probably did not feel snubbed.)"

Well, we can't really know that...

"And why no one from the world of dance?"

That is the $64,000 question.!

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There is no choreographer on the cited list of "artists making recommendations." But there may be on the part of the list unpublished, I guess. As for Dame Joan Sutherland--after so much pleasure from her singing, I cannot object. And she toured American extensively. I don't see why the honors have to be xenophobic, as long as the winner is a contributor to the arts in America. I'd rather see Ingmar Bergman get the award than Warren Beatty....

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I didn’t say anything about Elton John because in order to be consistent, I’d have to disqualify him on the same grounds as Sutherland. But I adore him, in spite of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and the other schlocko classics he’s produced for us in recent decades. Remember the platform shoes? Bernie Taupin? “Daniel”? He's just the coolest.

I don’t think the honors have to be a matter of “Only Americans Need Apply! Foreigners Keep Out!”, but I do think that if artists from other countries get the prize, it should be because they’ve made a specific contribution to American culture, as Balanchine did. Otherwise the honors tend to lose their point. Lynn Fontanne, since I brought her name up, was an Englishwoman. However, she married an American, lived here, made her name and spent most of her working life here, enriched the works of contemporary American playwrights with her performances. More than good enough for me.

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I think the Aussies will have more than a little objection to Sutherland being called English -- she's one of Down Under's cultural jewels. And if we're going to honor Joni Mitchell, we have to include all of the 51st state, that big land to our north :wub:

You know when I wrote that Sutherland was from England I was thinking she maybe she's from Australia but I wasn't sure. And I had no idea that Joni Mitchell was born in Canada none which so ever. Thanks hockeyfan228 for point this out for me! :sweating:

dirac, I would say that Tandy and Cronyn was a star team the public knew very well. Yes, they didn't appear together in films until late in their careers, but in the world of the American theater their names are as link together as Lunt and Fontanne are to theirs. If Lunt and Fontanne was American Theater greatest acting couple in the first half of the twentieth century, it can be argued that Tandy and Cronyn could be called American Theater greatest acting couple of the second half of the twentieth century.

And like dirac, I also wondered why there was no one from the world of dance. Suzanne Farrell, Patricia McBride, Cynthia Gregory all great choices. But right now I'm thinking about Helgi Tomasson, one of America's great male classical dancers as well as being argued that he more than anyone made The San Franciso Ballet into not just one of America's great ballet companies but a company that is regarded as one of the world's very best as well. I believe he was born in Iceland which makes from a foreigner, but a foreigner who's entire career is base in America.

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Hmmm. George B Fan I agree. I didn't get the Warren Beatty nod. It made me kakk a bit. (kakking is what my calico cat does when she has a very, very dry

hair ball caught mid-esophagus). The last movie of his I viewed, he played a

senator who went loopy and went around DC rapping---it was really cringe-worthy.

(Who was it at BA who coined that phrase?)

And yes, yes, Phillip Glass. I look forward to Kirk Peterson's "Amazed Burning

Dreams" next month because I love that music.

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They have two (well three) actors being honored this year. I think one would have been enough, with the other slot going to someone from the dance world.

Sir Elton's a cool choice though, not only for his talent but his AIDS activisim, although I know they don't judge on that.

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I don’t imagine Beatty will have to choke it down, however things stand in November!

I still think he’s a good choice if we're looking at movie stars. (And I should note he's never been a favorite of mine as an actor.) No one working in the conditions of commercial Hollywood is going to be without turkeys in his resume, and acting as director, producer, and/or writer, Beatty has some fine films to his credit.

GeorgeBfan, I quite agree that Tandy and Cronyn were a distinguished theatrical pair, but they were never at the Lunts’ level as stars. (And the Lunts never, no exceptions, appeared separately once they were in a position to dictate terms of employment.)

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He won the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award a few years back -- they give those out at the Oscars, so maybe that's what you're thinking of? He won Best Director for Reds, too, many moons ago.

As writer/director/actor, Beatty was involved with several of the seminal films of the late sixties/seventies: Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, etc. His recent credits have been rather less interesting, although I have a soft spot for Bulworth, and you could argue that big sister Shirley MacLaine was/is the bigger star, but he's an important figure. You know, I never realized that my brain was storing so many particulars from Warren Beatty's career. No wonder I can't make any money.

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This is why I love this forum. Where else can I hear intelligent conversation by people who know who Lynn Fontanne was? By the way, Lunt and Fontanne made one movie, The Guardsman, and hated the process so much that they went back to the Great White Way and refused to repeat the experience no matter how much money people tried to throw at them. Not that they didn't like the green stuff. Fontanne's explanation? "We can be bought; we can not be bored." For that alone, she deserved an award. Here's to artists who still prefer live performance.

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I did a web search for Lynn Fontaine, because I have a vague memory of seeing her in a television play when I was a child -- "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals" (by Barrie of Peter Pan fame, if I'm remembering correctly).

I found this link, which acting fans and/or nostalgia buffs might want to see:


It's the logs of radio shows from the 1950s. Not even PBS, I think, just regular ol' radio. But not Clear Channel.

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That’s a great link. Some of those shows sound as if they’re worth ordering.

Nora, it’s veering way off topic, but there’s a story I always liked about the making of “The Guardsman.” Irving Thalberg (MGM head of production, the Memorial Award fellow) held a sneak preview in some remote California suburb. The commentary cards from the audience were devastating. Thalberg had the courage, or nerve, to show these to the Lunts, and Fontanne chewed him out, but good. She said the film would find an audience, but not of these people, and the whole preview process was plainly a waste of time if such were the results. (The movie did do well, in the cities, mostly.)

I’m sorry they didn’t do another movie, though. In The Guardsman, they’re clearly getting used to the camera, and it would have been interesting to see what they did – especially Lunt – in their next one. Thalberg wanted them to come back and do Maxwell Anderson’s “Elizabeth and Essex” but as Nora notes, they said uh-uh. (Alfred was agreeable, Lynn not.)

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