A Kennedy Center triumph

December 27, 2005|By HAL BOEDEKER | HAL BOEDEKER,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Oprah Winfrey salutes Tina Turner. Quincy Jones and k.d. lang honor Tony Bennett. Paul Newman, Willie Nelson and Glenn Close pay tribute to Robert Redford.

There's no lack of star power in the 28th edition of The Kennedy Center Honors, television's classiest awards show. CBS tonight will presents the program, which was taped Dec. 4. A network release explaining the event suggests CBS has another winner.

For the third year in a row, Caroline Kennedy hosts this celebration of career achievement in the arts. Lavish retrospectives unfold in this order for the five honorees: actor-director Redford, singer Bennett, actress Julie Harris, dancer Suzanne Farrell and rock superstar Turner.

The crowd shots are always a bonus. The Washington audience includes President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw begins the tribute to Redford and notes that some of the actor's roles were a stretch. "Does anyone believe it would take a million dollars for Demi Moore to run off with Robert Redford?" Brokaw asks.

Newman, Redford's co-star from The Sting, jokes about the tricks the two men have played on each other. Actress Close recounts her first meeting with Redford before filming The Natural. Country superstar Nelson sings "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys."

Quincy Jones says that Bennett has "always had this beautiful, sweet light and sound glowing over him." Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis plays Bennett's signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Then four singers honor Bennett: Vanessa Williams on "The Best Is Yet to Come," Diana Krall on "Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)," Grammy nominee John Legend on "For Once in My Life" and lang on "What a Wonderful World."

Kevin Spacey opens the tribute to Broadway actress Harris by saying, "I speak for the entire community of theater when I say we have admired her choices, her determination, her gift and her dedication to her craft."

Alec Baldwin, Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren salute Harris with more glowing words. A splashy rendition of "Broadway Baby" unites Christine Baranski, Karen Ziemba, Leslie Uggams, Tyne Daly and Michele Lee, who co-starred with Harris on TV's Knots Landing.

In honoring Farrell, Jacques D'Amboise calls her a "demon of a dancer." The Suzanne Farrell Ballet Company performs George Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15.

Winfrey opens the Turner celebration by touching on one of the singer's best-known songs. "We don't need another hero," Winfrey says. "We need more heroines like Tina Turner."

Queen Latifah starts the musical tribute by singing "What's Love Got to Do With It."

Other singers tackle Turner's big hits: Melissa Etheridge on "River Deep, Mountain High," Beyonce on "Proud Mary" and Al Green on "Let's Stay Together."

Hal Boedeker writes for The Orlando Sentinel.

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