Kennedy Center Honors Tribute to Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Airs Dec. 28
By Andrew Gans
The Dec. 5 Kennedy Center Honors gala, which paid tribute to singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey, airs Dec. 28 on CBS at 9 PM ET; check local listings.
Kelsey Grammer, currently on Broadway in the Tony-winning revival of La Cage, emceed the tribute to composer-lyricist Herman. Others who paid tribute to the composer of Mame and Hello, Dolly! included Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing, Christine Baranski, Chita Rivera, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster and Laura Benanti, according to the Washington Post.
Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar for her performance in the film version of the award-winning musical Dreamgirls, was on hand for the tribute to Oprah Winfrey. Hudson, the Washington paper reports, performed The Color Purple show-stopper "I'm Here."
Claire Danes and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee were among those who spoke about choreographer Bill T. Jones.
In a previous statement Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said, "The Kennedy Center celebrates five individuals who have spent their lives enriching, inspiring and elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world. The honesty of Merle Haggard’s music and poetic lyrics has helped to shape the world of country music for nearly five decades. Jerry Herman’s musicals rank him in the pantheon of Broadway’s Golden Age and will keep audiences humming along for generations to come. The inventive style and imaginative artistry of Bill T. Jones has had an invaluable impact on the varied landscapes of dance and theater. Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most influential and successful songwriters and musicians of all time, whose work has continuously altered both the creation and perception of music all over the world. For more than 25 years, Oprah Winfrey has established one of the most innovative careers in the entertainment world, with distinctive accomplishments in television and film."
One of the theatre's most celebrated composers, Jerry Herman has written the scores for such Broadway musicals as Milk and Honey; Hello, Dolly!; Mame; Dear World; Mack & Mabel; The Grand Tour and La Cage aux Folles. He also contributed songs to A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and revues of his work include Jerry's Girls and An Evening with Jerry Herman. The songwriter won Tony Awards for his scores for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles.
Bill T. Jones is the recipient of two Tony Awards: for his choreography of Fela! and his choreography of Spring Awakening.
Last year's honorees included writer, composer, actor, director and producer Mel Brooks; pianist and composer Dave Brubeck; opera singer Grace Bumbry; actor, director, and producer Robert De Niro; and singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen.
For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.
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