Kennedy Center Honors: Eagles, Carole King, George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson

The 2015 Kennedy Center Honors will be presented to six artists instead of the traditional five. Those announced on Thursday for the national celebration of the arts are rock band the Eagles, singer-songwriter Carole King, director and producer George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa, and actress Cicely Tyson.

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Normally announced after Labor Day, the press release on Thursday was a summer surprise six weeks early. The artists are the first to be honored by new production team, Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, who annually produce the Tony Awards for White Cherry Entertainment. Veteran producer George Stevens, Jr., a founder of the annual event since it started in 1978, and his son Michael were not retained after last December’s ceremony.

In discussing this year’s selections, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein says, “Quite simply, our Honorees represent the voices, soundtracks,and stories of our personal lives and memories. The music of the Eagles has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations; Carole King’s heartfelt lyrics and tunes are woven throughout the tapestry of American music; George Lucas’ films have enriched our world with stories of epic adventure; Rita Moreno’s iconic spitfire roles are embedded in the heart of American culture; Seiji Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has set a new standard for orchestras around the world; and Cicely Tyson’s range of strong female roles on stage and screen have broken boundaries for women of color.”

The artists are chosen by a special advisory committee, chaired this year by Cappy McGarr. Past honorees making selections included Julie Andrews, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, and Chita Rivera.

The program has won the Emmy Awards as Best Variety Special five of the past six years. It was defeated last August by “AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks.”

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