A glittery ‘Kennedy Center Honors’

From the Washington Post

With the kind of glitz usually reserved for the Oscars, Washington pays tribute each December to a handful of performers in an artful evening at the Kennedy Center. On Tuesday, TV watchers will have a chance to see what all the fuss is about as CBS broadcasts the two-hour “27th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” at 9 p.m.

“It combines the ambience of official Washington and its own celebrities -- the great public figures starting with the president, senators and people with great responsibility -- with the dancers and singers and actors,” said composer and honoree John Williams. “So as glittery as the Oscars are, this seems even more so.”

Williams, who wrote the scores for more than 90 movies including the “Harry Potter” films, was saluted for his work, along with actor-producer Warren Beatty, actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, singer-songwriter Elton John and opera star Joan Sutherland.

The show includes brief film biographies for each honoree, as well as onstage performances by peers, who pay tribute to the individuals’ talents.


“With the ‘Kennedy Center Honors,’ we actually create two experiences, one for those attending the event and another for those who watch it at home on TV, " said producer George Stevens Jr., who started the event 27 years ago.

“We have more time for the actual show in the opera house, but the people watching at home get to see the close-ups of the honorees responding, reacting to the tributes. Their emotions, those special moments, that’s the TV additive, the extra that you will see.”

Viewers will see Itzhak Perlman pay tribute to Williams with a violin solo of the composer’s somber song from the film “Schindler’s List.”

“I was particularly gratified to hear Itzhak,” Williams said. “And then what thrilled me was the Marine Band.” The 70-piece group played a medley of Williams’ compositions, including the themes from “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “E.T.” and “Jaws.”