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Kennedy Center Honors pay tribute to legends



Published: Wed, December 26, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Rich Heldenfels

Akron Beacon Journal

The Kennedy Center Honors are meant to venerate, to showcase careers that are at once long and distinguished. But one of the interesting things about the latest honors telecast is to see how some of the honorees are not only still vigorous, but competitive.

Pay heed to the expression on bluesman Buddy Guy’s face as others play his music; it seems as if he’s thinking, “I can outplay anyone onstage.” Even as Robert Plant’s bandmates appear to enjoy the Led Zeppelin tribute, Plant himself looks coolly analytical, probably assessing how his best chops stand up next to those of his acolytes.

Guy and Led Zeppelin are showcased in the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, airing at 9 tonight on CBS, along with David Letterman, Natalia Makarova and Dustin Hoffman. Edited (and in some cases reorganized) from a live ceremony Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C., the program adopts a basic rhythm for each performer: introduction by a celebrity friend, a videotaped overview, then some kind of tribute presentation or performance.

It starts slowly, with a surprisingly stuffy tribute to Hoffman. The second segment, with Makarova, includes some lovely dancing but seems dutiful, sort of like enduring the acts you don’t care about on the old Ed Sullivan Show while waiting for the Beatles to play. (On Kennedy Center Honors, Letterman is held for the next-to-last slot while the Zeppelin homage closes the show.) Indeed, Kimmel — while praising Letterman — dismisses Makarova as just “the ballerina.”

But the Guy tribute is fairly solid, with Morgan Freeman introducing and music from Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark Jr., Kim Wilson and others. Things really roll with Letterman, as Tina Fey offers the introduction followed by funny remarks by Kimmel and Ray Romano, as well as a few stilted words from Alec Baldwin. Romano is especially good, with an excellent Stairway to Heaven joke and a nice zing at President Barack Obama, who was in attendance along with wife Michelle.

Jack Black fawns over Led Zeppelin before musical tributes featuring the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and Lenny Kravitz before the big finish: Jason Bonham, the drummer son of the late LZ drummer John Bonham, with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, and a choir, doing “Stairway.”

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Comments

1maxpower80203(1 comment)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

I can understand why Buddy Guy would analyze how other people performed his songs since it shows how dedicated he is to the craft. He wouldn’t be considered one of the best if he sat around and didn’t think he could outperform others. I won’t be home tonight for the Kennedy Center Honors, but I’ll watch it later this week since it’ll be recorded on my DISH Hopper through PrimeTime Anytime. I don’t need to set a timer for this since my DVR automatically records three hours of the major networks during that time. This helps me keep up with shows when I work overtime at DISH.

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