The Kennedy Center Honors

I’m a sucker for the Kennedy Center Honors. As I get older, I notice the honorees are, more often than not, quite familiar to me.

This year’s honorees, awarded on Sunday, December 3rd 2006, were as follows:

“Musical theater composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber“. If only for Jesus Christ, Superstar, I’d find Lloyd Webber to be a large part of my growing up. The raging theological debate that the musical generated among my friends and the religious folks I knew at the time was incredibly intense. Its revival was also the last musical I saw on Broadway, 3 or 4 years ago. I also own, also on vinyl, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, plus I have his Requiem Mass on cassette, and I saw the film version of the musical Evita.

“Conductor Zubin Mehta. Saw him on Live at Lincoln Center. I’m sure he shows up in my music collection, but it’s arranged by classical composer, not orchestra or conductor. But he’s in there somewhere.

“Country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton. She wrote “I Will Always Love You” about her long-time partner Porter Waggoner, but it became a huge hit for someone else. I have both Trio albums with Ronstadt and Harris, and saw her in the movie “Nine to Five”, but it is her many TV appearances for which I know her best. Dan Rather interviewed her in the past three years and was evidently smitten. I wonder if Jessica Simpson flub of “9 to 5” will appear on the air.

“Singer, songwriter and producer Smokey Robinson. The amazing thing about his writing for Motown is that he created for both the male and female artists’ points of view: My Guy for Mary Wells, My Girl for the Temptations. He wrote for and/or produced most of the classic Motown artists; his “Who’s Lovin’ You” appears on the debut albums of both the Supremes and the Jackson Five, e.g.
Possibly my favorite song he wrote was “No More Tear-Stained Makeup” for Martha and the Vandellas.
“No sponge has quite the power
To absorb the constant shower
Of the tears pancake and powder could never cover
Like a storm more tears have rained
Since your shirt was lipstick stained
And the stains that it contained
Were not my colour.”
And I haven’t even mentioned his hits with the Miracles, from the first big Motown hit (Shop Around) to a song covered by the Beatles (You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me) to the Tears songs (Tracks of My Tears, Tears of a Clown), plus his work as a solo artist.

“Film director and producer Steven Spielberg.”
I might have seen a few things he worked on:
Catch Me If You Can (2002) (producer, director)
Shrek (2001) (executive producer, uncredited)
Deep Impact (1998) (executive producer)
Amistad (1997) (producer, director)
Men in Black (1997) (executive producer)
Twister (1996) (executive producer)
Survivors of the Holocaust (1996) (TV) (executive producer)
“Pinky and the Brain” (1995) TV Series (executive producer)
“ER” (1994) TV Series (executive producer, some episodes)
Schindler’s List (1993) (producer, director)
Jurassic Park (1993) (director)
“Animaniacs” (1993) TV Series (executive producer)
Cape Fear (1991) (executive producer, uncredited)
Back to the Future Part III (1990) (executive producer)
Back to the Future Part II (1989) (executive producer)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (director)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) (executive producer)
Empire of the Sun (1987) (producer, director)
An American Tail (1986) (executive producer)
The Money Pit (1986) (executive producer)
The Color Purple (1985) (producer, director)
Back to the Future (1985) (executive producer)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (director)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (producer, director of segment 2)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (producer, director)
Continental Divide (1981) (executive producer)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (director)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (director, writer)
The Sugarland Express (1974) (director, story)
Plus a number of cartoons he wrote, TV shows he directed, and “The Making of” shows in which he has appeared.

The 2006 Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on CBS, next Tuesday, December 26, 2006 at 9 pm, ET (which stands for Eastern Time, not Extra-Terrestrial.)

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