2022 Kennedy Center Honors

George Clooney, Amy Grant, Amy Grant,  Tania León, U2

George ClooneyAs is my tradition, I note the honorees for the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors. Once again, I am very familiar with four of the five selected in this 45th class and the fifth, not at all.

I vaguely remember George Clooney from shows like Roseanne and Sisters, though I seldom saw The Facts of Life.

Nor did I see him on another show. Nevertheless, he won me $1,200 on JEOPARDY in 1998. A VIDEO DAILY DOUBLE: “Hi, I’m Jason Alexander. This actor co-starred with me on a sitcom called E/R before starring in the medical series ER.” Something I must have read in People magazine or Entertainment Weekly got stuck in my head when Clooney first started playing Dr. Doug Ross.

Subsequently, I saw or heard him in several movies, such as Up In The Air, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The DescendantsGravity, and Tomorrowland. He directed and appeared in Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

He was the executive producer of Far From Heaven and producer of Argo and August: Osage County.

When I saw Alison Krauss and Union Station in Albany in 2003, Dan Tyminski noted how his wife enjoyed hearing his voice come out of George Clooney’s mouth when the actor “sang” Man Of Constant Sorrow in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? I have had the soundtrack for two decades, though I saw the film during the COVID lockdown.

“George Clooney is co-founder and co-President, along with his wife Amal, of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.”

Contemporary Christian and pop singer-songwriter

I may have only one Amy Grant album, a vinyl recording of The Animals’ Christmas with Art Garfunkel. It was written by Jimmy Webb.

She was the first self-identified singer of Contemporary Christian Music to go to #1 on the pop charts. There were “Christians” who were HORRIFIED that Amy was doing pop music, such as Baby, Baby. Oh, please.

Amy married musician Vince Gill in 2000. She’s been active in philanthropy for her entire career.

A legendary singer of soul, Gospel, R and B, and pop

Gladys KnightI must have learned that Gladys Knight won Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour TV show from reading Ebony or Jet when I was growing up. She was eight in 1952.

Gladys Knight and the Pips had minor hits on minor labels, most notably  Every Beat Of My Heart in 1961 (#6 pop, #1 RB). She left the group in 1962 to start a family but rejoined in 1964.

The group signed with Motown in 1966. It always felt that the label didn’t know what to do with the act. Berry Gordy wouldn’t let the Miracles release I Heard It Through The Grapevine, but was OK with the Pips doing so. It became a big hit for the Pips (#2 pop for three weeks, #1 RB for six weeks); it is my favorite version of the song.

Gladys Knight and the Pips did have other hits on Motown, notably If I Were Your Woman (#9 pop, #1 RB) and Neither One Of Us (#2 pop for two weeks, #4 RB). But they also were recording the same songs that The Temptations were also getting.

Their move to Buddah generated their first #1 pop hit (for two weeks),  Midnight Train To Georgia. More Top 5 hits followed. She had an active solo career and acted as well.

Cuban-born American composer, conductor, and educator

Alas, Tania León is the honoree I do not know beyond what’s in the KCH bio.

Iconic Irish rock band

In 1988, I told a friend of mine that The Joshua Tree by the band U2 was one of my desert albums. My friend said one couldn’t put a one-year-old album on such a list. Maybe not, but I still like it quite a lot.

Lead singer Bono and his wife of 40 years Ali Hewson, were recently interviewed by Norah O’Donnell for CBS News’ Person To Person with U2’s Bono. He talked about his new book “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.” He shares how the band – he, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. – stayed together for decades and much more.

Here are some songs: Beautiful Day, One, When Love Comes To Town with B.B. King, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Rattle and Hum version), Where the Streets Have No Name, and  Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Watch the show!

The Kennedy Center Honors took place Sunday, December 4th, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Opera House. It will be televised Wednesday, December 28th, on CBS. We watch it every year.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Descendants

“If you think being in Hawaii all of the time is paradise, then you’re an idiot; no one’s immune to heartbreak and illness.”

So now it begins. The Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations came out last week, and I usually look at the film choices that I’ve already missed (e.g., Ides of March, Moneyball), ones that haven’t made it here yet (War Horse, The Artist, et al.), and what’s currently available. Having three other choices (Hugo, My Week with Marilyn, Melancholia), I opted to see the film set in Hawaii at the Spectrum Theatre Sunday, while the Wife and Daughter went to a children’s dance recital.

The descendants of the title are a bunch of cousins some generations removed from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries, who own this pristine coastal property, but that, by law, they must sell. Matt King (George Clooney) is wrestling with that decision, while, at the same time dealing with his wife’s boating accident and his sometimes strained relationship with his two daughters. Directed and co-written by Alexander Payne, who created the well-received films Sideways, About Schmidt, and Election, the movie is a sad and occasionally funny tale of betrayal, loss, and reunion.

I was initially annoyed by the seemingly endless voiceover at the beginning of the film; I guess I like my story shown, not told. But the information contained therein 1) was important to the plot and 2) made me think. There was a specific line, which I don’t remember exactly, but it was something like, “If you think being in Hawaii all of the time is paradise, then you’re an idiot; no one’s immune to heartbreak and illness.”

Ultimately, I bought into the characters in the film, stopped thinking, “Hey, there’s George Clooney.” Figuring out fatherhood CAN be difficult. There were a number of strong performances, including Beau Bridges as a cousin, Robert Forster as Matt’s father-in-law, Judy Greer as a woman with something in common with Matt, and Shailene Woodley as the elder daughter. If the movie was a tad pat at times, it may have been the fault of the generally appealing screenplay, rather than the performers.

Still, I was moved by the story – quite a bit, truth be told – and would definitely recommend it.

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