The 35th Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., will be celebrating the careers of bluesman Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and English rock band Led Zeppelin. (Guy and Hoffman were among those 30 names we put forth as possible inductees -- VIEW GALLERY)
In making the announcement, Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein said, "With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world."
He added, "Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin 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; David Letterman is 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; Natalia Makarova's profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world's greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers; and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert 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."
The program will be recorded on Dec. 2 and will air on CBS the night after Christmas.
The 2011 edition of the annual event is nominated as Best Variety Special at next week's Emmys. That program honored Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, Sonny Rollins, and Meryl Streep. It has won that category the past three years and is up against "Betty White's 90th Birthday," "Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker," "Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett: Together Again," and "Tony Bennett :Duets II." Gold Derby odds have "Kennedy Center Honors" out front at 11/10 to prevail again.
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According to the Kennedy Center, past recipients and members of its national artists committee, made recommendations for this year. Those artists included Alan Alda, Joshua Bell, Stephen Colbert, Renée Fleming, Kris Kristofferson, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mark Morris, Lionel Richie, and Frederica von Stade. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees, including Edward Albee, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kirk Douglas, Angela Lansbury, Streep, Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey, also made nominations.