Springsteen, De Niro, Brooks and Token Opera Lady Named Kennedy Center Honorees
The 2009 Kennedy Center Honors winners have just been announced. Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen were named -- three American cultural icons, to be sure, plus jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and opera diva Grace Bumbry. Mel, Bobby and Bruce are perhaps an unlikely trio, but there is common ground: All are true patriots who enjoy uncommonly enduring careers and have been accused, to some extent, of having sold out -- Springsteen with his recent Ticketmaster foibles, Brooks with his ongoing efforts to turn his classics into Broadway cash machines, and DeNiro with arguably every movie he's made since 1996.
Thank god George W. Bush is out of the White House, if for no other reason that he made the Honors an incredibly awkward affair, what with Laura slapping him across the back of the head as he snoozed from his balcony perch through the classical music tributes, then looked around confusedly through Mike Nichols's This Is Your Life segment, then (somewhat forgivably) fell back asleep for Caroline Kennedy's speaking portion, and perked up just in time for whichever country and western star was being recognized with a hoedown fronted by Alison Krauss and Beyoncé. And then there was the whole Barbra fiasco. Yes, everyone hated Bush, while only a select few hate Obama -- and the ones getting government-issue, rainbow-ribboned medallions of merit are almost certainly not among them.
· Kennedy Center Announces This Year's Honorees [Washington Post]