Joining Burnett and Nichols for the 26th Annual Kennedy Center Honors are musician James Brown, singer Loretta Lynn and violinist Itzhak Perlman. The 2003 Honorees will be saluted in a gala performance at the Kennedy Center's Opera House Dec. 7. President and Mrs. Bush will receive the Honorees at the White House prior to the performance. The evening — which will be filmed for TV broadcast — will air on CBS-TV in December 2003.
In a statement Kennedy Center Chairman James A. Johnson said, "For the unique and extremely valuable contributions they have made to the cultural life of our nation, we honor one of the most influential musicians of the last 50 years, a nationally treasured icon of television comedy, a singer whose name is synonymous with the heartbreak and joy of country music, an extraordinary director whose career has been equally brilliant in the theater and on film, and a classical superstar of unsurpassed artistic achievement."
Honorees are recognized for lifetime contribution to American culture in the fields of dance, music, theatre, opera, motion pictures or television. Recommendations of possible nominees were made by members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, past honorees as well as these artists: Jane Alexander, Dan Akroyd, Antonio Banderas, Joshua Bell, Dave Brubeck, Kevin Costner, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Nora Ephron, Renee Fleming, Paloma Herrera, Gregory Hines, Anthony Hopkins, Angelica Huston, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Rob Marshall, Audra McDonald, Sherrill Milnes, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Martin Scorsese, Sissy Spacek, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Heather Watts and Jerry Zaks.
Carol Burnett has been seen on the Broadway stage in Once Upon a Mattress, Fade Out — Fade In, Moon Over Buffalo and Putting It Together. She spent 11 years on "The Carol Burnett Show" and has amassed six Emmy Awards for her work on that program and several other TV appearances. A production of Hollywood Arms, the play that she co-wrote with her late daughter Carrie Hamilton, played Broadway's Cort Theatre last season.
It was recently announced that Mike Nichols — whose screen adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America will hit HBO this year — will also direct the film of version of Patrick Marber's Closer. Nichols' received an Academy Award for Best Director for the 1968 classic "The Graduate." He was also Oscar-nominated for Best Director for his work on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Silkwood" and "Working Girl." On Broadway, Nichols received Tony Awards for directing The Real Thing, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Plaza Suite, Barefoot in the Park and Luv and The Odd Couple. Last year's Kennedy Center Honorees included Tony Award-winning singer/actress/dancer Chita Rivera, Tony-winning actor James Earl Jones, conductor James Levine, singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor.
For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.