The recipients of the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors have been announced, and they are: Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins, and Tony winner and singer Barbara Cook.
The Kennedy Center Honors, which this year air Dec. 27 on CBS, are hands down my favorite awards show. There’s so much love, respect, laughter, and tears in that theater and the beautiful thing is, it’s all deserved. You get wonderful speeches like Jon Stewart’s when he encapsulated Bruce Springsteen, Gregory Hines’ when he articulated better than anyone what makes Mikhail Baryshnikov so special, and Steve Martin’s when he roasted pal Paul Simon; amazing crowd participation like when the audience stood and waved lighters as the Paul McCartney tribute ended with “Hey Jude” and Beyoncé ordered everyone (including President George Bush) up for her “Proud Mary” tribute to Tina Turner; and performances that make you want to tear up (Vince Gill singing “I Will Always Love You” to honor Dolly Parton) or pee yourself (remember that insane Bob Mackie costume fashion show to honor Carol Burnett with a singing Scott Bakula and John Schneider?).
Who would you like to see honor this year’s recipients? In my dream world, Trey Parker gives a Stewart-style intro speech about Neil Diamond. Or, since Diamond is Parker’s karaoke go-to, perhaps he joins a handful of fun stars (with good voices) onstage for a karaoke medley before the more serious musical tributes. Also, I would love to see the men of Mamma Mia! (Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgard) do some kind of short musical tribute to Streep where they rewrite the lyrics to an ABBA song to describe working with her. Perhaps Robert De Niro will return the favor and give a speech about her process, as she did when he was honored in 2009. Your turn.