Morgan Freeman, George Jones, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, and Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey
To Receive 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors
America to Celebrate the Careers of Six Extraordinary Artists,
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Gala will be broadcast on CBS
Washington, D.C.-The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection of the individuals who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2008. Recipients to be honored at the 31st annual national celebration of the arts are: actor Morgan Freeman, singer George Jones, actress and singer Barbra Streisand, choreographer Twyla Tharp, and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who.
"With their extraordinary genius and tenacity, the 2008 Honorees have redefined the way we see, hear and feel the performing arts. We will forever be thankful for the great gifts they have shared with us," said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. "Morgan Freeman's name is synonymous with great screen acting and is one of the most respected performers in American cinema. With his unique voice and extraordinary career endurance, singer George Jones has been instrumental in making country music a vital force in American life. Barbra Streisand's trailblazing career in music, theater, films, and television is one of the most thrilling spectacles of our culture. Choreographer Twyla Tharp is an American original, whose work has indelibly enriched the vocabulary of modern dance, contemporary ballet, and the Broadway musical. As the heart and soul of the seminal band The Who, songwriters and singers Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey transformed the sights and sounds of rock and roll."
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 7, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr., the 2008 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. Bush, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
The President and Mrs. Bush 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 2008 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.
The Kennedy Center Honors will be bestowed the night before the gala on Saturday, December 6, at a State Department dinner, hosted by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 31st consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special.
Stevens, who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 31st year. The Honors telecast has been honored with five Emmy's for Outstanding Program and is nominated again this year. It has also been recognized with the Peabody Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America.
The Boeing Company is the exclusive underwriter of the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors Gala and weekend of events, which includes the honorees 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 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.
Past Honors recipients, as well as Members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, made recommendations of possible 2008 Honorees. Artists making recommendations included: Alan Alda, Dan Aykroyd, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Glenn Close, Joel Coen, Christine Ebersole, Renée Fleming, Savion Glover, Thomas Hampson, Herbie Hancock, Paloma Herrera, Hugh Jackman, Billy Joel, Evgeny Kissin, Patti LuPone, Rob Marshall, Reba McEntire, Terrence McNally, Mark Morris, Mark O'Connor, Bernadette Peters, Frederica von Stade, Forest Whitaker, Damian Woetzel, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees, including Carol Burnett, Clint Eastwood, Elton John, James Levine, and Sidney Poitier, also made nominations.Michael M. Kaiser, President of the Center, expressed the national cultural 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 also supports many of our performing arts initiatives, education and public service programming, and national outreach efforts."