Bill T. Jones, Oprah Winfrey Among 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honorees

WI Staff Report | 12/8/2010, 6:43 p.m.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honored singer and songwriter...
Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey received accolades during the recent 2010 Kennedy Center Honors. Courtesy Photo

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honored singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey at the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.

The 33rd annual national celebration, which took place Sun. Dec. 5, will be televised CBS, Tues., Dec. 28.

"The Kennedy Center celebrates five individuals who have spent their lives enriching, inspiring and elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world," said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein."The honesty of Merle Haggard's music and poetic lyrics has helped to shape the world of country music for nearly five decades. Jerry Herman's musicals rank him in the pantheon of Broadway's Golden Age and will keep audiences humming along for generations to come.

The inventive style and imaginative artistry of Bill T. Jones has had an invaluable impact on the varied landscapes of dance and theater. Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most influential and successful songwriters and musicians of all time, whose work has continuously altered both the creation and perception of music all over the world. For more than 25 years, Oprah Winfrey has established one of the most innovative careers in the entertainment world, with distinctive accomplishments in television and film."

"The Kennedy Center Honors continues to be an evening like no other and one of the most prestigious telecasts of the television year," said Leslie Moonves, President & Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation. "The intersection of Washington, New York and Hollywood for this event speaks to the importance of the performing arts to all of us. We're proud of our longstanding partnership with the Kennedy Center and privileged each year to be part of a broadcast that honors those whose talents and achievements influence our arts, entertainment and culture in such a profound way."

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 5, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2010 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, Nashville, 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. ...More

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 2010 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.

George Stevens Jr. , who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 33rd year. Stevens and his son Michael Stevens received Emmy Awards for the second consecutive year for Outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy Special. The Honors telecast has also been recognized with the Peabody Award for Outstanding Meritorious Service to Broadcasting and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America.

The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts--whether in dance, music, 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.

Previous Honorees, as well as members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, made recommendations of possible 2010 Honorees. Artists making recommendations included: Alan Alda, Emanuel Ax, Harolyn Blackwell, Joel Coen, Barbara Cook, Nora Ephron, Denyce Graves, Thomas Hampson, Bill Irwin, Hugh Jackman, Evgeny Kissin, Patti Lupone, Terrence McNally, Sherrill Milnes, Mark Morris, Edward Norton, Kid Rock, Meryl Streep and Frederica von Stade. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees, including Edward Albee, Warren Beatty, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, Elton John, James Levine, Steve Martin and Brian Wilson, also made nominations.