The starry list of entertainers who will salute Crystal include Bob Costas, Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, Rob Reiner, Marc Shaiman, Martin Short, Barbara Walters and Robin Williams. The evening, which will be taped by WETA Washington, D.C., will air on PBS stations nationwide Nov. 12 at 9 PM ET.
The Mark Twain Prize, according to press notes, recognizes "people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said 'against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.'"
In a statement Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, "The Kennedy Center is pleased to give Billy Crystal the Mark Twain Prize for an extraordinary career. The work he has created for stage, film and television, has made an indelible impression. It is the work of not just a humorist but also a humanist."
Awards recipient Crystal countered, "To be given the same award as Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and Neil Simon is a great honor. As my grandfather said, if you hang around the store long enough, once in a while they'll give you something!" Billy Crystal made his Broadway debut in 2004 in the solo show 700 Sundays, which garnered the actor Tony, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. His film and television appearances are numerous and have resulted in six Emmy Awards, six American Comedy Awards and seven Cable Ace Awards.
Tickets for the evening will go on sale Aug. 10 by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org.