According to Variety, Stevens Jr., who created the annual event — which celebrates artists for their "lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts" — announced on stage at the ceremony that he'd been told by Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein that the Honors needed a new producer.
Stevens Jr. worked alongside his son Michael as co-producer since 2008; both will end their run following this year's show. He received a standing ovation from the crowd following the announcement.
"Michael and I have had an amazing team," Stevens said at the Kennedy Center Honors. "We've tried our best to invest this program with integrity."
This year's Honors recognized the achievements of singer Al Green, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride, singer-songwriter Sting and comedienne Lily Tomlin. Honorees are selected by the Center's Board of Trustees. Stephen Colbert hosted.
The Honors Gala was recorded for subsequent broadcast on the CBS Network. "The 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors" will air Dec. 30 at 9 PM ET. Kennedy Center spokesman John Dow issued a statement to Playbill.com that reads, "The Kennedy Center is enormously grateful for the contributions George and his son Michael have made to the Honors over the years. The Kennedy Center Honors have grown in stature over the past 37 years to become the preeminent recognition of the performing arts in America. With Sunday night's news, the Kennedy Center will begin a search for an Honors producer that will build upon this strong foundation in the years to come."