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Kennedy Center Announces 2017 Honors Slate

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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced the selection of five Honorees who will receive the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients to be honored at the 40th annual national celebration of the arts are: American dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, Cuban American singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan, American Hip Hop artist and entertainment icon LL COOL J, American television writer and producer Norman Lear, and American musician and record producer Lionel Richie.

“The Kennedy Center Honors spotlights the extraordinary careers of five artists whose talent and ingenuity have enriched and shaped cultural life in America,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Carmen de Lavallade is a national treasure whose elegance and talent as a dancer led to a career touching many art forms; international superstar Gloria Estefan has influenced American music through her infectious Miami Sound; landmark rap artist LL COOL J taught the world how to rhyme as one of the pioneers of the Hip Hop phenomenon; Norman Lear spoke to the human condition and sparked poignant cultural conversations with some of the most epochal TV sitcoms of the 20th century; and Lionel Richie’s irresistibly recognizable melodies capture the heart and transcend generations.”

“This is a truly exceptional slate of Honorees—made even more special by the fact that we will honor these artists as we also celebrate four decades of the Kennedy Center Honors,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “Each of this year’s Honorees became known to and loved by the world because of their complete originality and bold genius. They are creators of the highest order, and as President Kennedy’s living memorial, the Kennedy Center is so proud to shine a light on their boundless ‘contributions to the human spirit.’”

Throughout its 40-year history, the annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural and society calendar, and its national broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. On Sunday, December 3, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment, the 2017 Honorees will be saluted by today’s leading performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and the First Lady, the Honorees will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

The President and the First Lady will receive the Honorees, distinguished former Honorees and members of the cast, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2017 Kennedy Center Honors Gala, chaired by Boeing Chairman, President, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg, concludes with a dinner in the Grand Foyer. The Honorary Chairs of the 2017 Honors Gala are Buffy Cafritz and Ann D. Jordan.

The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 2, the night before the Gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The Co-Chairs of the State Department dinner are Noémi and Michael Neidorff.  The Founding Chair of the State Department dinner is Elizabeth Stevens.

The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 40th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Tuesday, December 26 at 9 p.m. ET.

White Cherry Entertainment is well-known for producing the perennial award-winning Tony Awards® for the last 16 consecutive years, and also for producing the Primetime Emmy Awards®, NFL Opening Kickoff and Super Bowl Halftime Shows, the Democratic National Convention, Presidential Inaugural Galas, and many other special events. To date, White Cherry Entertainment has won 8 Emmy Awards®, while Kirshner and Weiss have individually received an additional 4 Emmy Awards®, 7 Directors Guild Awards, a Peabody Award, and more than 33 Emmy® nominations. This is the third consecutive year White Cherry will produce the Kennedy Center Honors.

For the third year, the Kennedy Center will launch a contest on social media in which one winner will receive two tickets to attend the 2017 Honors Gala on December 3. Additional details will be announced at a later date.