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[11/07/06 - 04:32 PM]
Caroline Kennedy Returns as Host of "The 29th Annual Kennedy Center Honors" to Be Broadcast DeC. 26 on the CBS Television Network
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson and Steven Spielberg are this year's honorees.

[via press release from CBS]

CAROLINE KENNEDY RETURNS AS HOST OF "THE 29TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS" TO BE BROADCAST DEC. 26 ON THE CBS TELEVISION NETWORK

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson And Steven Spielberg Are This Year's Honorees at the Gala to Be Taped Dec. 3

CBS Has Broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors Each Year Since its Debut

THE 29TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, a new entertainment special, will be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 26 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Caroline Kennedy hosts for the fourth consecutive year. CBS has broadcast this special each year since its debut.

Musical theater composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, conductor Zubin Mehta, country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson, and film director and producer Steven Spielberg will receive honors for the year 2006.

The 2006 Honorees will be saluted by stars from the world of the performing arts at a gala performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House, which will be attended by President and Mrs. Bush and by artists from around the world.

The President and the First Lady will receive the Honorees, and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2006 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a dinner dance in the Grand Foyer. The Kennedy Center Honors will be bestowed the night before the gala on Saturday, December 2 at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Honors recipients are selected each year by the Board of Trustees of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures and television. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement. Over the years, the selection process has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER

Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on March 22, 1948 in London. Arguably the most successful composer of our time, he also remains among the most surprising. He has found inspiration in the unlikeliest sources: making music from the Old and New Testaments and from the text of the Mass, from an urbane Bloomsbury romance, from smoldering French and British gothics, from a game called soccer and from the melancholy dream of Old Hollywood. He has made unforgettable musicals about just plain singing and dancing, but also about South American politics, British butlers, lovelorn phantoms and American trains. Even about cats -- and how many musicals boast Nobel Prize-winning lyrics? It is good to remember how strikingly original a theatrical concept it was to bring together the quirky, cool poems of T.S. Eliot with Lloyd Webber's knowing neoromantic melodies. "Cats," one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history, is but one such original gesture in a career marked by originality and surprise.

"No theatrical figure in the last 20 years has appealed so consistently to popular taste as Lloyd Webber," David Richards wrote in The New York Times. "Not just American popular taste or British popular taste, but worldwide popular taste. He has established the vogue for the sung-through musical, brought epic dramas and operatic emotions to the musical stage and helped prove that no subject is off-limits."

Lloyd Webber is the composer of "The Likes of Us," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "By Jeeves," "Evita," "Variations" and "Tell Me on A Sunday," "Song and Dance," "Cats," "Starlight Express," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Aspects of Love," "Sunset Boulevard," "Whistle Down the Wind," "The Beautiful Game" and "The Woman in White." He composed the scores of the motion pictures "Gumshoe" and "The Odessa File," and his setting of the Latin Requiem Mass earned him a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition. As a producer, his work has included not only his own musicals but also the Olivier Award-winning play "La B�te," "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Daisy Pulls it Off," as well as an acclaimed revival of Rodgers and Hart's "On Your Toes" and the groundbreaking West End and Broadway original presentations of A. R. Rahman's musical "Bombay Dreams." In 2004, he produced a film version of "The Phantom of the Opera," directed by Joel Schumacher. This season alone, Lord Lloyd Webber is producing a major West End revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music," his own "Phantom of the Opera" is enjoying a new production in Las Vegas, and his "Evita" is once again conquering the West End.

Not just a stage creature, Lloyd Webber has written Top 10 singles for a wide variety of singers including Madonna, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Cliff Richard, David Essex, Elaine Paige, Michael Crawford and Boyzone. Among his Top 10 albums are the original cast recordings of "The Phantom of the Opera," "Aspects of Love," "Cats" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," as well as studio recordings of "Tell Me on a Sunday," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Evita," "Whistle Down The Wind" and "Variations."

Among his awards are an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award, seven Tony Awards, six Laurence Olivier Awards, three Grammy Awards, 14 Ivor Novello Awards, a Triple Play Award from ASCAAP, entry into the American Songwriters' Hall of Fame and the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theater. "The Beautiful Game," Lloyd Webber's heartbreaking musical about soccer against a background of sectarian war in Northern Ireland, was his first to receive the London Critics' Circle Award. He was knighted in 1992 and created an honorary life peer in 1997.

Lloyd Webber bought the Palace Theatre in 1983 and now owns and has restored seven London theaters including the Palladium and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He is the founder of the Open Churches Trust, an ecumenical organization devoted to the restoration and opening to all of formerly locked churches and synagogues to enable the public to experience these architectural treasures.

Lloyd Webber is a native Londoner, born in South Kensington. His father is the composer William Lloyd Webber, his mother is the pianist and educator Jean Johnstone Lloyd Webber and his younger brother is the world-renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. Andrew was a Queen's Scholar in history at Magdalen College, Oxford, but his studies were sidetracked by his passion for music. He was still a teenager when he met Tim Rice, then a 21-year-old law student, and the two found themselves inventing rock opera and transforming musical theater with "Joseph�" and the international hit "Jesus Christ Superstar." What followed, with the prolific Rice as well as with several other collaborators, is the stuff of musical history. No one, including Lloyd Webber, could have predicted that his trajectory would move from the life of Jesus to the travails of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves," or that these would lead to the Brechtian bite of "Evita." No one ever seriously considered T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to be a possible subject for a musical. Yet, it was a childhood favorite of Lloyd Webber and was transformed by this genius who, in the process, made musical history. The monumental opulence of "The Phantom of the Opera," itself from the surprising source of a long-forgotten Gaston Leroux novel, did not prepare musical lovers for the delicate, intimate adult pleasures of "Aspects of Love," a masterpiece of chamber opera that happens to work as a musical.

Then again, everything Lloyd Webber does seems to work. "He's slightly crazy," said Elaine Paige, who created the tragic role of Evita and also had a memorable run as Lloyd Webber's deluded Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard." "His mind just darts from one thing to another. It's quite staggering, really." Crazy and quite staggering; that is the stuff of musical genius.

ZUBIN MEHTA

Zubin Mehta was born on April 29, 1936 in Bombay, India. While Mehta was still in his teens, his teacher, the venerable Hans Swarowsky, called him "a born conductor." Years later in 1981, the year Mehta was named Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Harold C. Schonberg wrote in The New York Times that "his beat must be an orchestra player's delight. It is almost text book in its motions, moving in fairly large arcs in an unfussy manner�. There is something Toscaninian in Mr. Mehta's beat." And yet there always has been something more than the control of even the great Toscanini in Mehta's conducting. Mehta's passion on the podium is all his own. His musical integrity is legend, and his love of freedom is as great as his love of music.

"It is not politics," says Mehta, "It is humanity. I don't campaign for anybody." He makes music for everybody. He often carries it where it is most needed: from the ruins of the Bosnian National Library in war-torn Sarajevo to Tel Aviv during the Gulf War, in Moscow's Gorky Park during the twilight of the Soviet era and in India with his Israeli musicians breaking a decades-long absence of cultural dialogue and diplomatic ties. In 1999, Mehta's passion brought together, for the first time, the Israel Philharmonic and the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra for a historic performance of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony No. 2 in what had been a concentration camp in Weimar. Mehta has spread the sheer sensual joy of great music coast to coast in America at the helm of the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at festival time in Florence, and through season after season in his home theater in Munich. Mehta led the Three Tenors Concerts in Rome and Los Angeles. Together with his friends and fellow soccer fans Jos� Carreras, Pl�cido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, he created the most wildly sensational classical music success story of our time. Always a showman but also indefatigably a servant of the score, Mehta has a rich and growing discography that attests to the breadth of his musical genius.

While Mehta, who is Parsee by heritage and Indian by birth, currently resides in Los Angeles, he was born in Bombay, now called Mumbai. He grew up in a time of national strife: the time of India's hard-won independence but also the painful partition and birth of Pakistan and Gandhi's assassination and its aftermath. He received his early musical education from his father, Mehli Mehta, a violinist and co-founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and later the music director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. His younger brother, Zarin Mehta, is today the executive director of the New York Philharmonic. Neither Zarin nor Zubin set out originally for careers in music and young Zubin, in fact, began training in medicine. After only two semesters of medical school, Zubin Mehta launched into music in earnest, studying conducting with Swarowsky at the Music Academy in Vienna. Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958, and shortly afterwards he also won the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-20s, Mehta already conducted both the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.

His rise in the music world was swift. Mehta was music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967. In 1962, he became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he held until 1978. In 2006, after a Philharmonic concert in the new Disney Hall where Mehta received a special award from the city of Los Angeles, Mark Swed wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "something strong and evidently indestructible runs deep between him and this community."

In 1969, Mehta was named Music Advisor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra where he became Music Director in 1978. In 1981, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed on Mehta the unique accolade of making him Music Director for Life. So far he has conducted more than 2,000 performances with extraordinary musicians on landmark tours across five continents. In 1978, Mehta became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic where his 13-year tenure would become the longest in the orchestra's history. Since 1985, he has been revitalizing opera as the chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. This year he completes his tenure as music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich where his operatic triumphs are legend.

Mehta made his operatic debut in Puccini's "Tosca" in Montreal in 1964. Bringing to the stage the same intensity, truth and passion that he inevitably summons in the concert hall, Mehta's operatic career has followed a similar trailblazing path. He has led major productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Milan's La Scala and at the Salzburg Festival as well as in the major houses and festivals in Montreal, Chicago and Florence.

Mehta's recordings form a living panorama of the best music-making of this or any other era. There have been intensely personal live and studio performances of the classics of the canon, of Mozart and Beethoven, of Brahms, Berlioz and Mahler. Among his many operatic recordings are several that count among the finest of all time, including a stellar version of "Turandot" that marked the first time both Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti took the leading roles in Puccini's late masterpiece. A second "Turandot" recording acts as a souvenir of Mehta's historic performance of the opera in China's Forbidden City.

This year saw the publication in Germany of Mehta's autobiography, "Die Partitur meines Leben: Erinnerungen" ("The Score of My Life: Memories"). The memories are many, the life remarkable. "It all comes from the music," Mehta has said. "I do whatever the music demands. What is conducting? Conducting is communication. And what I communicate at the moment is what I feel and what my musicians need."

DOLLY PARTON

Dolly Parton was born on Jan. 19, 1946 in Sevier County, Tenn. She is perhaps the greatest ambassador of the uniquely American sound of country music. As a songwriter, she is wondrously creative and astonishingly prolific. As a performer she is magnetic and effervescent. Her voice is an instrument of hope and joy when it isn't breaking your heart. "She towers above generations of artists influenced by her vocal and songwriting gifts," says one critic. Some of the best singers today, including Melissa Etheridge, Shania Twain and Norah Jones, have paid tribute to her through their own music. "I can't imagine anybody, especially in country, who doesn't try to emulate Dolly in some way," says singer Emmylou Harris. She is adorable in a literal sense and perhaps that is her greatest gift. It's easy for people around the world, no matter what language they speak or what land they call home, to love this American art form when the artist is Dolly Parton. To her homegrown fans she is at once the ultimate celebrity and the girl next door.

Parton has been performing for nearly half a century. She is a music star with deep roots in Nashville and a Hollywood star with movies and television credits on her resume. More than 20 of her albums have gone gold and platinum. She's been nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, countless Grammy Awards, People's Choice Awards and Country Music Association Awards. She crosses back and forth from country to pop and each time introduces a whole new world of music to her fans. She is a singer who has given voice to other women through fiercely progressive lyrics that express a unique perspective and create a female identity.

She was one of 12 children born to a sharecropper and his wife in the mountains of Tennessee. Her career took inspiration from the music she heard performed by the major female stars of country music: Rose Maddox in the '40s, Kitty Wells in the '50s and Patsy Cline in the '60s. She was also inspired by the traditional Appalachian folk and bluegrass that formed the soundtrack of her girlhood. These all come through in her own music, which is a dazzling tapestry of hillbilly, honky-tonk, gospel, jazz, bluegrass and blues, sometimes all rolled into one single verse of a song.

When Parton was still a child, she was on local television, recording on a small label and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry. As a young adult from the mid '60s to the early '70s, she was a hit at the Opry, on television and on tour with the famous "Porter Wagoner Show." Her recordings of "Joshua," "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" made her nationally famous and her first Grammy Award in 1977 was for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her song "Here You Come Again."

She made her movie debut in 1980 in "Nine to Five," which earned her not just sterling reviews for her acting, but also an Academy Award nomination for writing the title song, her first Number One Top 40 record, and her second and third Grammy Award. She has gone on to appear in more than 15 movies, including "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Steel Magnolias," the theme song of which launched her as a pop artist and turned her into an international star. She spent most of the '80s spinning out one pop hit after another, but returned to her acoustic roots in 1987 for the landmark album "Trio," with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. She also traveled home, to the music of her mountain childhood, in the '90s with "Heartsongs" and "Hungry Again." She wrote her autobiography, My Life and Other Unfinished Business, in 1994 and finished the decade with "The Grass is Blue," a critically acclaimed album of genuine bluegrass (her first) that yielded the hits "Grass," "Halos & Horns," and "Little Sparrow," and won her two more Grammy Awards. This year, Parton earned her second Academy Award nomination for the song "Travelin' Thru," which she wrote for "Transamerica."

In the last couple of decades, country music has changed from an art form that appealed to a regional audience to music that is fervently loved by people across the country and around the world. Parton's critical role in this transformation cannot be underestimated.

Parton's songs tell stories. They speak of her Appalachian background but are universal in their meaning and appeal. They are about man-stealing women, love gone bad, mistakes people make and trying again and again. What the songs say is important, but how they are sung is what makes people want to hear them. That's what makes Dolly Parton a true artist. "'Coat of Many Colors' is a song that has the power to change you subtly, forever, maybe not so much for the subject matter as for the way Parton sings it," writes Stephanie Zacharek on Salon.com. "Her voice stands alone among living country singers, but it also stands as one of the greatest country voices of all times� her voice tears your heart in two, not because it's sad, but because it's so relentlessly hopeful."

WILLIAM "SMOKEY" ROBINSON

William "Smokey" Robinson was born on Feb. 19, 1940 in Detroit. To hear him sing his way through his "The Tears of a Clown" is to understand a lovely, perfect moment in American music. He's a Detroit native and the very soul of Motown, a singer's singer, a poet's own poet, everyone's giving, loving clown and much more. Fellow Kennedy Center Honors Honoree Bob Dylan once called Robinson "America's greatest living poet." That is an unguarded, disarmingly emotional response to a musician whose emotions never fail to ring true. Think not only of his lyrics to "Tears of a Clown," but also of "The Track of My Tears," "Shop Around," "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "My Guy," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Get Ready," "It's Growing," "I Second that Emotion," "Sweet Harmony," "Baby Come Close," "Baby That's Backatcha," "I Am I Am," "The Agony and the Ecstasy," "Open," "Quiet Storm" and "Let Your Love Shine On Me." Impressive by any standards as a string of hits, taken together they add up to a body of work that transformed and defined American music across any pop, soul, R & B or Rock and Roll divide. Perhaps Bob Seeger put it best in Rolling Stone magazine when he recalled nostalgically, "I used to go to the Motown revues and the Miracles always closed the show. They were that good and everybody knew it. Not flash at all. The Supremes had bigger hits. The Temptations had the better dance moves. The Miracles did it with pure music. Back then, the radio played the rougher stuff, [but] Smokey Robinson -- they played him all day. Everybody loved his songs, and he had a leg up on all the other singers, with that slightly raspy, very high voice. Smokey was smoky."

That Robinson wrote his own songs seemed like so much icing on a sweet cake. Everybody loved his songs, everybody still does. Together with The Supremes, The Temptations and the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, with the Miracles and on his own as a composer, producer and hit-maker, was a powerful and influential creative force alongside Motown's visionary Berry Gordy in combining the na�ve sweetness of mainstream American pop with the gritty sensuality of the most daring of rhythm and blues. Doo-wop came of age and the Motown sound was born.

As a child, Robinson was nicknamed "Smokey" because of his love of Westerns. He was just 15 when he founded a doo-wop group called The Five Chimes with four friends from Northern High School. Renamed The Matadors in 1957 and joined by Smokey's cousins Bobby Rogers and Claudette Rogers, they began playing Detroit clubs. They changed names again, to the Miracles, and they met up with the young Berry Gordy Jr. who, in 1958, co-wrote for them the single "Got a Job." It was a humorous, nevertheless very positive, answer song to The Silhouettes' hit "Get a Job." The song came true: young Smokey really got a job. Gordy founded Tamla Records in 1959, soon reincorporating it as Motown Records with his friend and prot�g� Smokey Robinson as vice-president by 1961. The rest is music history.

The Miracles bridged the worlds of doo-wop and soul with Robinson as their guiding light. After what proved to be a warm-up single called "Way over There," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' second release for Motown, "Shop Around," established a sound that would cool and caress a generation. It was their first million copy seller. Throughout the 1960s and early '70s, music and musician alike grew in assurance, from elegant ballads to easy throbbing dance numbers like "Mickey's Monkey" and "Going to A-Go-Go." Robinson's activity was not limited to The Miracles. As a generous songwriter and producer, he created "My Guy" for the sassy Mary Wells and "My Girl" for the inimitable Temptations. But it was Robinson's own voice, the silky cooing and wooing of everything from "Ooo Baby Baby" right through the immortal "Tears of a Clown" that forever marked the soundtrack of Baby Boomers' lives.

After Motown's glory days, Robinson continued to thrive on his own. His final hit with The Miracles was 1972's "We've Come Too Far to End it Now" and, like the Supremes' bittersweet "Some Day We'll Be Together," it signaled the end of an era but also the dawn of reinvigorated artistic maturity. Smokey Robinson grew jazzier, perhaps mellower, certainly never a slave to the disco fashion but very much in touch with the pulse of music lovers. His work became more subtle, still yielding unforgettable hits such as "Sweet Harmony" and "Just My Soul Responding." His album "A Quiet Storm" turned out to be the apotheosis of a golden era of R & B even as a new generation's hip-hop and rap was on the horizon. It was with "A Quiet Storm" that Robinson gave notice that smooth, lush and gorgeous ballads could never be out of place in our hearts.

"As a kid, this is what I wanted my life to be," Robinson once said, confessing, "Not in my wildest dreams did I ever dare to dream that it would be this." He was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1991, he won a Soul Train Music Award for Career Achievement. Never one to rest on his laurels, this poet laureate of love released his first Gospel album, "Food for the Spirit," in 2004. In 2006, Howard University conferred on Smokey Robinson an honorary Doctor of Music degree.

STEVEN SPIELBERG

Steven Spielberg was born on Dec. 18, 1946 in Cincinnati. He is the most successful director of our time and one of the most acclaimed of any era. His movies amuse and amaze us, startle and move us, make us laugh, cry, think and dream, in some cases all at once. In the 100 or so years that the world has been going to the movies "no director or producer has ever put together a more popular body of work," wrote Roger Ebert in Time magazine which, at the end of the 20th century, named him the most influential person of his generation. "That's why the movies we're now seeing are made in his image," continued Ebert. That image, powerful, dynamic and wondrous, was first outlined by his feature debut in 1974, "The Sugarland Express." It was subsequently enriched and refined by hit after hit, masterpiece after masterpiece: "Jaws" (1975), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and its sequels "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), "The Color Purple" (1985), "Empire of the Sun" (1987), "Jurassic Park" (1993), "Schindler's List" (1993), "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" (2001), "Minority Report" (2002), "Catch Me if You Can" (2002), "War of the Worlds" (2005) and "Munich" (2005).

Spielberg has been nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Director, winning for "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan," and seven of his films have been nominated in the Academy Awards' Best Picture category, including "Schindler's List" which won the award. As a producer, he was honored by the Academy with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He is the director who defined the modern summer blockbuster with "Jaws," made dinosaurs walk the earth in "Jurassic Park," introduced us to present and future aliens and robots in "Close Encounters," "E.T." and "A.I.," and created a true adventure hero in Indiana Jones at a time when the cinema was filled with anti heroes. His most powerful films portray deeply flawed people, explore slavery and racism, war and the Holocaust, loneliness and friendship, terrorism, the search for identity and the quest for freedom. He has depicted the human condition in comedy, fantasy, adventure and drama. "Steven's passion and enthusiasm for ideas and for human understanding is very much what fuels his work," says Harrison Ford.

His films, particularly the early ones, often focused on children and young people. When he was young, he focused on making amateur 8mm adventure and horror movies that often featured his family and friends. His first professional short film was "Amblin," which later became the moniker for his production company, Amblin Entertainment. He left California State University in Long Beach early (although he returned four years ago to finish his degree) to accept a television directing contract with Universal Studios. The contract resulted in the cult Joan Crawford segment of "Night Gallery," as well as episodes for such '60s classics as "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Name of the Game," "Columbo" and one of the classic made-for-television movies, "Duel," first broadcast in 1971. That led to "The Sugarland Express" and then to "Jaws." Famously a disaster-in-the-making, "Jaws" won three Academy Awards (for editing, score and sound), was the first film to gross over $100 million and scared more people than anything that had come before. Its musical theme became synonymous for unbearable suspense and horror and its composer, John Williams, became Spielberg's lifelong collaborator. As the first summer blockbuster, "Jaws" changed our movie-going habits and transformed Hollywood forever.

Refusing to direct a "Jaws" sequel, he turned his attention from the seas to the skies and created the classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It was another hit with another John Williams soundtrack, and Spielberg earned his first nomination for directing. The Indiana Jones films are landmarks of action movies. "E.T." is many people's favorite fantasy film and was the top-grossing film of all time for many years. "The Color Purple" was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. "Jurassic Park" set new standards for visual effects and breathless adventure and was released the same year as "Schindler's List," a watershed film in his career that was huge at the box office. In fact, "Schindler's List" was listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 10 Greatest Films Ever Made.

Spielberg co-founded Dream Works, the first new major Hollywood Studio, with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Dream Works released its first picture, "Amistad," in 1997. It was based on the true story of the ship carrying enslaved Africans who rebelled against their captors. Next came "Saving Private Ryan" and another directing Academy Award, and his massive co-production of "Band of Brothers" for HBO. "Band of Brothers" was acclaimed as one of television's greatest triumphs and was showered with Golden Globe Awards and Emmy Awards.

In this young century, Spielberg has already produced what Billy Wilder described as the "most underrated film of the past few years," "A.I.," Stanley Kubrick's final unrealized project; two Tom Cruise blockbusters, "War of the Worlds" and "Minority Report"; and, most recently, the stunningly controversial "Munich," which was nominated for five Academy Awards.

For Spielberg, movies are his passion, and his compassion has made him a generous philanthropist. His projects include Starbright World, which helps hospitalized children; Righteous Persons Foundation, which distributes the profits from the film "Schindler's List"; and Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which he founded to chronicle the testimony of Holocaust survivors. Spielberg is an entertainer, an artist and a humanist. The majority of his films "work on every level that a film can reach," wrote Ebert, because Spielberg has a "direct line to our subconscious."

George Stevens Jr., who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 29th consecutive year. The Honors telecast has been honored with five Emmys for Outstanding Program as well as the Peabody Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television. THE 29th ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS is sponsored in part by General Motors and TIAA-CREF.

RATING: To Be Announced





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[11/20/14 - 11:06 AM]
Velocity and Discovery Channel to Air 36 Hours of Live Coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction in January 2015
Coverage begins Tuesday, January 13 from 6-8 PM ET/PT on Discovery Channel and continuing through Sunday, January 18 from 2-7 PM ET on Velocity.

[11/20/14 - 11:00 AM]
TBS's "Cougar Town" Celebrates 100th Episode
Co-creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence led a toast with cast members, including Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Christa Miller, Josh Hopkins and Ian Gomez.

[11/20/14 - 11:00 AM]
Investigation Discovery Turns the Pages of the Deadliest Stories with New Series -- "Murder Book" Premiering December 2
Stories are told in first-person interviews with the lead investigators as well as in the voice of veteran actor, Geoff Pierson.

[11/20/14 - 10:46 AM]
Video: New Promo for "Idol XIV" Returning with a Special, Two-Night, Three-Hour Premiere Event Wednesday, Jan. 7 and Thursday, Jan. 8 on FOX
Check out the latest tease for the new season of the network's flagship reality series.

[11/20/14 - 10:44 AM]
TBS Sets Table for 2014 Edition of "Thanksgiving with Friends" Marathon, Plus "Seinfeld" Festivus Celebration
The marathon will include all 10 Thanksgiving episodes of "Friends," along with four bonus episodes focusing on dating troubles.