“He is best in class and will no doubt undue any solemnity that might otherwise attend the occasion,” said Honors co-producer George Stevens Jr.
Stevens and his fellow producer Michael Stevens reportedly made the casting decision without input from CBS, where Colbert will take over from David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” some time next year. CBS will air the 37th annual KenCen Honors as a special on Dec. 30.
Colbert has been a frequent attendee of the Honors in recent years. The job as host, performed for many years by Walter Cronkite and more recently by Caroline Kennedy, is limited to three brief appearances during the event.
Said Colbert: “I am stunned to be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor at such a young age. I thought it would be years before… I’m sorry. I’m being told I am HOSTING the Kennedy Center Honors. Oh…Well, I’m glad. That makes a lot more sense.”
This year’s honorees are Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin, Sting, Al Green and Patricia McBride.
Actress Glenn Close hosted the event last year.