Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond among 2011 Kennedy Center Honorees. Who should fete them?


Image Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Images

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 SpringsteenGregory 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.

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • Jillian

    Love Neil Diamond! Cracklin’ Rose is my ringtone!

    • mral

      When will Bette Midler be honored?? On top of her incredible stage work, music and movies she runs one of the biggest charities in NYC… The New York Restoration Project.

    • Dieter

      It will never happen, but I think it would cool if the Monkees honored Neil Diamond.

  • Pez

    How about all past recipients honoring the newest batch? Mike Nichols for Streep, Barbra Streisand for Diamond, Qunicy Jones for Sonny Rollins, Itzhak Perlman for Yo-Yo Ma and Stephen Sondheim for Barbara Cook?

    • LMH


  • scary

    Jack Black for Diamond

  • orville

    Since Caroline Kennedy will be there anyway, she should be one of the speakers for Diamond. Or at least make some sort of acknowledgement of the “Sweet Caroline” connection.

    • real fan

      i like it!

  • Mike

    Barbara Cook should be serenaded by Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, and Rebecca Luker. And her intro should be by Hugh Jackman (she’s a huge fan of his – she saw “The Boy From Oz” multiple times).

    • welshgirl

      i love that! i met her once with Meredith Wilson’s widow (wrote The Music Man) and I totally cried – they were both so nice and gracious. Barbara Cook is lovely.

      • Jack

        I’m with you – welshgirl – I’m excited about Barbara Cook’s LONG overdue recognition. Please excuse me, however, for being “that guy,” but the great American Broadway composer spelled his name Willson (two “l”s).

  • Jackie

    I’d love to see Stanley Tucci honor Meryl Streep. They were really fantastic together in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘Julie and Julia’.

    • Gwen

      Amy Adams and Anne Hathaway would also be wonderful. And what about Robert Redford (“Out of Africa”)?

  • sonny

    I totally agree with Pez! This would truly be a great tribute.

  • Tully

    She looks regal in this pic. Wow.

  • Lois Jacobs

    So glad to finally see Ms Streep honored for her work.
    Wonderful award for the great Barbara Cook. Terrific choices this season and I never miss this wonderful evening.

    • Troy Soldier

      It would be fun to see the “Mama Mia” crew honor Meryl. If not them, I’d enjoy seeing Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin.

      • davey

        Mama Mia was AWFUL and should never be talked about EVER again!
        Thank you :)
        Meryl does look beautiful by the way!

  • Gramjak

    I totally agree that this is THE best award show and thank you for your wonderful news piece here. All of the comments thus far are good suggestions!
    Cannot wait for December 27, as this year’s honorees are outstanding, just like their predecessors! Kennedy Center Honors is a night
    to enjoy and celebrate!

  • shawshank

    Nora Ephron was so great honoring Streep at the AFI Lifetime Achievement. Could she top it?

  • ila sten

    I’d love to see Michael Feinstein honor Barbara Cook.

  • Brett

    Jack Black should introduce each of them.

    • Jack

      g-d forbid!!!!

  • sascha

    i love this award ceremony too. I agree with the author, there is so much respect, love, and laughter in the room. I love the current batch of honorees. But I urge the KCH to please keep Glenn Close in your thoughts please.

    • DTMc

      I had the pleasure of working with Glenn Close for a day when I was a photographer’s assistant several years ago. She was very sweet, friendly, and down-to-earth.

  • Gregoire

    One Best Actress Oscar, One Kennedy Centers Honor. Take that, Hilary Swank!

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