The Handel Medallion is the highest official honor given by the City of New York and is presented for outstanding achievement in the arts.
Mayor Bloomberg will also present the 2008 Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture to six individuals in celebration of their outstanding contributions to New York City cultural life.
Simon said in a statement, "I'm so honored to receive the Handel Medallion. I like writing more than talking. But when the Mayor calls, I'm always glad to answer."
The Medallion presentation will be hosted by "Ugly Betty" star Vanessa Williams. The evening will feature live performances, including special appearances by Broadway stars Christine Baranski, Matthew Broderick, Robert Klein, Tony Roberts, and the cast of Hair — the latter in honor of this year's Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture recipient Galt MacDermot, the composer of the groundbreaking musical.
The producers of the Broadway-bound Hair, The Public Theater and Elizabeth Ireland McCann, recently announced the musical will transfer to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre Feb. 13, 2009, following its sold-out late summer run at the Delacorte Theater. Official opening is March 5, 2009. The recipients of the Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture are The Alliance of Resident Theatres (A.R.T./NY); The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Arthur Aviles, choreographer; Dr. Sharon Dunn, former Director of Arts Education, NYC Department of Education; Galt MacDermot, composer; and Rush Arts Gallery & Corridor Gallery.
Simon is the internationally produced American playwright and screenwriter plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lost in Yonkers and the Tony Award-winning Best Plays The Odd Couple (1965), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Lost in Yonkers (1991).
He is the only playwright to have had four Broadway productions running simultaneously. His many works include Little Me; Promises, Promises; They're Playing Our Song; Plaza Suite; Fools; California Suite; Chapter Two and more.
His related autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound will be produced on Broadway, in repertory, starting in fall 2009.
The Handel Medallion is named for the German-born composer George Friederic Handel and was established in 1959 on the 200th anniversary of his death.
The Medallion has been awarded to renowned artists such as Richard Rodgers, Benny Goodman, George Balanchine, Joseph Papp, Harold Arlen, Charlie Chaplin, Elia Kazan, Duke Ellington, Beverly Sills, George Abbott, Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Lena Horne, John Lennon, Leontyne Pryce, and Kitty Carlisle Hart.