WASHINGTON — Actor Dustin Hoffman, comedian/TV host David Letterman, blues singer Buddy Guy, ballerina Natalia Makarova and the rock group Led Zeppelin have been selected to receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
While Led Zeppelin will be feted as a band, the honor will be presented to keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant.
The seven artists will be celebrated Dec. 4 at a gala to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS. The production will be staged, as it has been in the pst, before an invited audience of entertainment and political names including Barack Obama and his wife. George Stevens Jr. and son Michael will reprise their roles as co-directors.
The event caps a busy weekend of kudo-related events including a private dinner at the U.S. State Department for honorees and guests the previous evening hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, plus a Sunday afternoon reception at the White House.
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said this year’s honors fest will salute seven individuals whose “extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world.”
He called bluesman Guy “a titan of the blues” and “a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century.” He said Hoffman’s “unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation.”
Rubenstein called Letterman “one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm.” He saluted the “profound artistry” of Makarova, a Russian immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1970 as a dancer for the American Ballet Theater and who performed at the KenCen’s opening week in 1971.
He said Led Zeppelin’s Jones, Page and Plant “transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands.”