We have done a lot of complaining about the poor quality of Award Show programs this past year. Both the Academy Awards and the Emmy's were disappointing. And even the MTV Video Awards suffered from that psycho comic from the UK.
Last night, CBS aired the Kennedy Center Honors, and it was magnificent. It made me remember what I love about Award programs when they are done right.
The first step to success is to nominate the right people! This year's 2008 honorees could not possibly have been more diverse and worthy. A choreographer (Twyla Tharp) a couple of classic rock legends (Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry from The Who), an accomplished actor (Morgan Freeman) a country singer (George Jones) and a star so Super Nova she defies categorization (La Barbra Streisand). The entire show was, to coin a phrase associated with the latter, "like buttah".
A great deal of thought also went into the performers and announcers, who were all top notch and in many cases, legends of their own. BB King performed, and both Clint Eastwood and Denzel Washington gave terrific homage to Mr. Freeman. The rock Gods from the Who, both praised for coming to the rescue of NYC after 9-11, were introduced by an unusually humble Jack Black and serenaded by a choir of NY police and firemen who performed Teenaged Wasteland! Lily Tomlin introduced Twyla Tharpe and a magnificent example of her dance genius was performed to a Frank Sinatra trilogy. Country superstars Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Garth Brooks all sang songs to country legend George Jones. The latter was introduced by the first lady, Laura Bush.
Of course, they saved the greatest pop Diva of all time for last. La Barbra was introduced by a very charming Queen Latifah, and sung to by the gorgeous Beyonce who did a lovely version of "People". My only complaint is that every shot of Ms. Streisand in the balcony had James Brolin sitting so close that he appeared to literally be perched on her shoulder.
It was a grand, grand night. You can click on the link above to see some of it streaming on the CBS web site. Sorry I could not find any video to post here, the only good stuff out there in cyberspace has been disabled.
Happy New Year everyone! May your 2009 be happy and healthy and filled with great TV!