Hey, Kennedy Center! Please select Bob Newhart, Jessica Lange, Eagles and …

One of the highlights of my television viewing each year is the Kennedy Center Honors. Having followed the ceremony since the very beginning in 1978, I love that it is a true celebration of the arts. CBS should be commended for devoting two hours annually to celebrate such a wide variety of artists, well-known or not.

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Who would be my personal picks for this year’s honorees? The five artists for 2014 will be announced sometime soon now that Labor Day has passed.

Below, my top three choices per genre based on age and impact, starting with the most over-looked group – TV stars. (See the roster of those still waiting to be honored in the photo gallery at the bottom of this post.)


Mary Tyler Moore – Actress in “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and “Ordinary People”; seven-time Emmy winner; Oscar nominee; co-founder of MTM Productions; member of the TV Hall of Fame.

Bob Newhart – Actor and comedian in “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart”; Emmy winner among eight nominations; three-time Grammy winner; Mark Twain Prize for Comedy from the Kennedy Center; member of the TV Hall of Fame.

Dick Van Dyke – Actor and comedian in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Diagnois: Murder,” and “Mary Poppins”; four-time Emmy winner; Tony winner; Grammy winner; member of the TV Hall of Fame.


Michael Caine – Actor in “Alfie,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Dark Knight,” “Educating Rita,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Sleuth”; two-time Oscar winner.

Harrison Ford – Actor in “Air Force One,” “42,” “The Fugitive,” “Patriot Games,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Star Wars,” “Witness”, and “Working Girl”; Oscar nominee.

Gene Hackman – Actor in “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Conversation,” “The French Connection,” “Hoosiers,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Superman,” and “Unforgiven”; two-time Oscar winner.


Sally Field – Actress in “Absence of Malice,” “Forrest Gump,” “Lincoln,” “Norma Rae,” “Places in the Heart,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Steel Magnolias”; two-time Oscar winner; three-time Emmy winner.

Jessica Lange – Actress in “American Horror Story,” “Blue Sky,” “Country,” “Frances,” “Grey Gardens,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Tootsie”; two-time Oscar winner; three-time Emmy winner.

Maggie Smith – Actress in “California Suite,” “Gosford Park,” “Harry Potter,” “Othello,” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “A Room with a View” and “Sister Act”; two-time Oscar winner; three-time Emmy winner; Tony winner.

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Eric Clapton – Solo artist and member of Cream and The Yardbirds; one of the greatest rock guitarists; three-time inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; 17-time Grammy winner.

Glen Frey/Don Henley – Founding members and chief songwriters for rock band The Eagles; band has sold over 150 million records; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members; six-time Grammy winners.

Jerry Lee Lewis – One of the founders of rock and roll as a pianist and songwriter; nicknamed “The Killer”; ranked near the top of the 100 greatest artists of all time; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; Grammy life achievement winner.


Carole King – Top songwriter and popular singer with 25 solo albums; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; four-time Grammy winner.

Gladys Knight – Known as the “Empress of Soul”; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member; seven-time Grammy winner.

Liza Minnelli – Singer and star in film, television, and stage; two-time Tony winner; Oscar winner; Emmy winner; Grammy living legend recipient.

Related: Honorary Oscars go to Harry Belafonte, Maureen O’Hara


Cynthia Gregory – Prima ballerina since 1967.

Garrison Keillor – Humorist, storyteller, and radio star; host and star of “A Prairie Home Companion” since 1974.

Bernadette Peters – One of the most critically aclaimed Broadway stars; two-time Tony winner.

Watch our video slugfest below where Gold Derby executive editor Paul Sheehan and I discuss these possible honorees and many others. Who do you think should be selected this year?

The 2013 ceremony celebrated the careers of opera singer Martina Arroyo, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, pop/rock star Billy Joel, actress Shirley MacLaine, and rock guitarist Carlos Santana.

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