Stephen Colbert returns to host the 39th annual Kennedy Center Honors, which are being held December 4 at the John F. Kennedy Center fo the Performing Arts in Washington DC.
The Honors Gala is being recorded for broadcast on CBS; the two-hour primetime special will air December 27 at 9 PM ET. This marks Colbert’s third consecutive year hosting the special.
Honorees for 2016 include Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, rock band the Eagles, screen and stage actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples, and musician James Taylor.
In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 2016 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.
“The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates the spectacular talents of artists whose brilliance has left a lasting impact on our society,” stated Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein in an earlier statement. “These Honorees represent what is possible when creativity is not just cultivated, but unleashed. Martha Argerich’s distinguished performances have spanned the globe and over the last six decades have earned her world recognition as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries; the Eagles’ ambitiously themed albums epically merged the American West and rock ’n’ roll, paving the way for unconventional music makers and artists to come; Al Pacino has embodied some of the most powerful characters of our time on both the stage and silver screen; Mavis Staples’s unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span 60 years and even served as a musical backdrop to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign for civil rights; and James Taylor’s warm baritone and poetic lyrics embody the art of songwriting, making him one of the defining musical figures of our time and his music the soundtrack of our country.”
“Reflecting on the powerful commitments these artists have made to their crafts as well as the cultural contributions they have made over the course of their illustrious careers is a humbling experience,” added Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter. “These Honorees have each played a unique role in shaping America’s artistic landscape with their work, expressing their creativity in ways that pushed the boundaries of what art can do, and what it can mean. Their artistic triumphs have motivated us, moved us, and will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”
The Honors recipients are recognized for “their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts – whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television – and are confirmed by the Executive Committee of 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; over the years, the selection process has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.”
Pacino made his Broadway debut in 1969 with Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, which won him a Featured Actor Tony Award. His screen credits include The Godfather and Scent of a Woman, among numerous others. His additional stage credits include Camino Real, The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (Tony Award), King Richard III, American Buffalo, Chinese Coffee, Hughie, The Merchant of Venice and, most recently, China Doll.