Tania León Among This Year’s Kennedy Center Honors Recipients

Tania León has earned a prestigious honor…

The 79-year-old Cuban composer, conductor and educator will be among this year’s Kennedy Center Honors recipients.

Tania LeónLeon is part of a roster of honorees that includes U2, Gladys Knight, Amy Grant and George Clooney.

The Honors recipients are recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—and are confirmed by the executive committee of the Center’s board of trustees.

 

Deborah F. Rutter, Kennedy Center president, noted: “For nearly a half-century, the Kennedy Center Honors has represented the very best of America’s creative culture. The Honors is often referred to by past recipients as the pinnacle of awards because it recognizes not just one performance, album, or film, but esteems an artist’s cumulative body of work and influence over many decades…”

León received a 2012 Grammy nomination for best contemporary classical composition for Inura for Voices, Strings and Percussion. She is also renowned as a conductor, educator and advisor to arts organizations

León was a founding member and the first musical director of Arthur Mitchell‘s Dance Theater of Harlem, establishing its music department, music school, and orchestra.

She won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Stride.

The 45th Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a dinner in the Grand Foyer.

“Little did I imagine when studying in La Habana that life was going to grace me with such a distinction! My first thoughts went to my ancestors: they believed in my dreams, and what we lacked in material wealth, they made up for in spirit, encouragement, and support,” says Leon of the honor. “My heartfelt thanks go to the many people who have blessed my path by helping my talent to blossom and by giving me the chance to be heard. I am incredibly humbled to join such a prestigious family of artists, and deeply grateful to the Kennedy Center for bestowing me with this incredible honor.”

The 45th annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on Wednesday, December 28 (8:00 – 10:00 pm ET/PT) on CBS. Paramount+ Premium subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate on the service as well as on demand. Essential-tier subscribers will have access to on-demand the day after the special airs.

The special show will be taped on Sunday, December 4 in Washington, D.C.  Presented for lifetime artistic achievements, the program will be held on Sunday, December 4, on the Opera House stage at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Television Academy Names Rita Moreno to This Year’s Hall of Fame Class

Rita Moreno is entering a special hall

The Television Academy has announced its 26th Hall of Fame class, with the 90-year-old Puerto Rican entertainer among the honorees.

Rita Moreno,Moreno will be joined by choreographer and actress Debbie Allen, documentarian Ken Burns, BET founder Robert L. Johnson, CBS executive Bob Daly and cinematographer Donald A. Morgan.

Moreno, an EGOT winner (Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, Tony Awards), is a two-time Emmy winner for The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files.

She has starred in series including The Electric Company, Sesame Street, Nine to Five, Oz, Cane, Happily Divorced, Jane the Virgin, and the Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s One Day at a Time.

Moreno’s many accolades also include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, the Kennedy Center Honors and the Peabody Award.

Moreno is among two of the honorees who’ve already received honorary awards from the Television Academy. She was awarded a “Televisionary Award” in 2008. Allen received a Governors Award last year.

The Hall of Fame event will take place on Wednesday, November 16, at the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.

In addition to the induction of the 2022 Hall of Fame recipients, the event will include the presentation of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to actor/director/activist Sean Penn and the unveiling of new busts of four previous inductees.

“These legendary performers, creators, craftspeople and television executives are luminaries in our industry,” Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, said in a statement. “Their work has influenced and immeasurably elevated the current television landscape and culture. We are proud to induct these trailblazers into the Hall of Fame and honored to celebrate their extraordinary contributions to our industry.”

“This year’s honorees have told the American story through television in ways that will forever shape our history and culture,” said Rick Rosen, Hall of Fame selection committee chair (who is also WME co-founder and head of television). “Whether they reshaped the industry itself through visionary leadership or created pieces of work that have had a lasting legacy, these individuals will forever be remembered for the impact they’ve had on the medium.”

The 2022 Hall of Fame honorees join more than 150 individuals previously inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1984. The honors were presented every year from 1984 to 1993, but the Academy has skipped 13 years since then for various reasons. This is the first induction class since 2019.

In addition to Rosen, this year’s Hall of Fame selection committee included Marcy Carsey, Emmy-winning producer; Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of Universal Studio Group; Peter Roth, former chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group; Nina Tassler, co-chief executive officer of PatMa Productions; and Dana Walden, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content.

Producers Guild to Honor Rita Moreno with Stanley Kramer Award

Rita Moreno is earning yet another honor…

The Producers Guild will present the 90-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer with the 2022 Stanley Kramer Award at the 33rd annual PGA Awards, set for March 19 at the Fairmont Century Plaza.

Rita MorenoThe honor goes to a production, producer or other individuals “whose achievement or contribution illuminates and raises public awareness of important social issues.”

Moreno, an EGOT winner, will join previous recipients including Jane Fonda as well as Get Out, Loving, Fruitvale Station, The Normal Heart, Bombshell, The Hunting Ground, An Inconvenient Truth and Hotel Rwanda.

Kramer’s work included such iconic films as Inherit the Wind, On the Beach, The Defiant Ones and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

“With grace, intelligence, charisma, and kindness, Rita Moreno made her mark in history as a brilliant entertainer and leveraged that star power to shepherd stories that tap into the human experience and represent people and communities we rarely see celebrated in film and TV,” PGA presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher said Wednesday. “Beyond her on-screen contributions, she has used her unmistakable voice to hold a mirror to the prejudices and inequities that she so often experienced throughout her career. Her activism, strength, and artistic contributions set the precedent for how to be a changemaker in Hollywood, and it is our great honor to present Rita with the Stanley Kramer Award this year.”

Moreno most recently appeared and executive produced Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story after winning an Oscar for the original film, the latest in a seven-decade career that began with her Broadway debut at 13. She has appeared in more than 40 feature films and countless TV series including most recently Norman Lear’s remake of One Day at a Time. Her documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It had its world debut at Sundance Film Festival last year.

Moreno previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, the SAG Life Achievement Award, the Peabody Career Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor.

“The last thing I ever dreamed of in my young life was being honored in any circumstance,” Moreno said. “That the Producers Guild of America has chosen to honor me not only for my work but for the principles I have tried to uphold and live by throughout my life is so gratifying. I am thrilled.”

Critics Choice Association to Honor Rita Moreno at Inaugural “Celebration of Latino Cinema”

It’s a special celebration for the legendary Rita Moreno

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer will be honored alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda and Demián Bichir at the Critics Choice Association’s inaugural Celebration of Latino Cinema.

Rita MorenoMoreno, Miranda and Bichor will be honored alog with a group of additional honorees, many associated with upcoming 2021 films, still to be announced.

The Celebration of Latino Cinema, to be presented virtually, will take place on Thursday, December 9, 2021 and aims to put a spotlight on the contributions of great Oscar-winning and -nominated artists like Moreno, Miranda and Bichir, but also Latino filmmaking in general, a facet of the motion picture industry that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves during awards season.

Among other things, the CCA’s Celebration of Latino Cinema aims to change that.

“We are thrilled to be launching the first annual Celebration of Latino Cinema which recognizes the talented performers and skilled professionals who create the acclaimed films we are so proud to honor,” said Claudia Puig, a CCA member and co-programmer of the event.

“Films by our honorees represent the diverse and multi-faceted Latino community, and reflect our increasingly inclusive industry” said CCA board member and event co-programmer Clayton Davis.

The Celebration of Latino Cinema will be produced by Madelyn Hammond and Javier Infante of Madelyn Hammond & Associates. Stagedge will be responsible for transforming the show into an immersive virtual experience.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to LA Collab, whose mission is to accelerate Latino access, visibility and representation in the entertainment industry.

Moreno has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: an Oscar, a Tony, two Emmys, and a Grammy. She recently co-starred in the Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day at a Time, and her documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before being released in theaters; it will be broadcast on PBS’ American Masters in October. Moreno also co-stars in and executive produces Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

She is a recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts.

Miranda is a Pulitzer-, Grammy-, Emmy– and Tony Award-winning songwriter, actor and director, and creator and original star of Broadway’s Hamilton and In the HeightsA recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Award, a Kennedy Center Honor and the Portrait of a Nation Prize, he received an Emmy with Tom Kitt for their song “Bigger” from the 67th Tony Awards. Upcoming projects include Disney’s Encanto and his directorial film debut, tick, tick… BOOM!

Bichir received a Best Actor Oscar nomination in 2012 for his role in Chris Weitz’s A Better Life, becoming the first Mexican-born actor to be nominated in that category by the Academy since Anthony Quinn in 1957. He more recently received rave reviews for his performance in the film Land, directed by Robin Wright. His film credits include Steven Soderbergh’s Che, Oliver Stone’s Savages, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, Paul Feig’s The Heat, Richard Shepard’s Dom Hemingway, Ridley Scott’s Alien, George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky, and Adam Wingard’s Godzilla Vs. Kong.

Rita Moreno to Star in the Feature Film “The Prank”

Rita Moreno is pranking around…

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony Award winner) has landed a starring role in the feature film The Prank, which will be directed by Maureen Bharoocha.

Rita Moreno

Moreno will star opposite Connor Kalopsis and Ramona Young.

The Prank follows two high school students who play a prank on their physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, played by Moreno. When she fails them on a test; they teach the imperious, demanding, insulting instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of the murder of a missing student.

Other cast in The Prank includes Keith David, Meredith Salenger, Jonathan Kimmel, Nathan Janak and Kate Flannery.

Filming begins this month in and around Los Angeles.

The dark comedy is written by Rebecca Flinn-White & Zak White.

“Rita Moreno is a force of nature and an icon who continues to redefine herself,” said Bharoocha. “Her brilliant comedic mind lends itself to the perfect ‘Mrs. Wheeler’, a character we have never seen her play, and one that will no doubt surprise audiences.”

Moreno has won an Oscar (West Side Story), a Tony (The Ritz), two Emmys (for her turns respectively in 1977 and 1978 on The Muppet Show and Rockford Files), and a Grammy (Best Children’s Album for The Electric Company).

Moreno has starred on Broadway and London’s West End, appeared in more than 40 feature films and has performed in numerous regional theaters, including her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She recently co-starred in the critically acclaimed Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day At A Time.

Her documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, produced by Lear, Lin Manuel Miranda and Brent Miller had its world debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film, which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike, will have its television debut on PBS’ American Masters nationwide on October 5.

Moreno also co-stars and is an executive producer of the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, set to open on December 10.

The recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, she was also honored by her peers as the 50th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Moreno’s all-Spanish-language album, Una Vez Más, was produced by her good friend Emilio Estefan, and she is a New York Times bestselling author with her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir. Moreno has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

Justino Diaz Among This Year’s Kennedy Center Honors Recipients

It’s an Honors of a lifetime for Justino Diaz.

The 81-year-old Puerto Rican operatic bass-baritone is among the recipients of the Kennedy Center’s Kennedy Center Honors this year, as the organization plans to return the ceremony to its traditional time and format in December.

Justino Diaz

In 1963, Díaz won an annual contest held at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, becoming the first Puerto Rican to obtain such an honor and as a consequence, made his Metropolitan debut in October 1963 in Verdi‘s Rigoletto as Monterone.

Diaz’s big roles throughout his career were in the operas of Mozart, taking on the title role of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro a total of 27 times in his Met career.

He was also a renowned Scarpia and Iago in his time. He was famously picked by Franco Zeffirelli to take on the villain in his film version of Verdi’s final tragic masterwork; Scarpia was the last role he sang on the Met stage.

In addition to Diaz, the recipients for the December 5 event will be singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, actress and singer Bette MidlerSaturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, and Motown Record founder and producer Berry Gordy.

CBS will broadcast the 44th annual ceremony, and it will be live streamed on Paramount+ and available on demand.

The Kennedy Center Honors traditionally takes place in the first weekend of December, with events at the White House and the State Department preceding the ceremony at the Kennedy Center Opera House. But because of Covid-19, the most recent honors were postponed until May this year, with the ceremony spread out over several days with a mix of indoor and outdoor events, some in person and some pre-taped. Instead of a White House reception, President Joe Biden had a smaller gathering of the honorees.

In a statement, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said, “After the challenges and heartbreak of the last many months, and as we celebrate 50 years of the Kennedy Center, I dare add that we are prepared to throw ‘the party to end all parties’ in D.C. on Dec. 5th, feting these extraordinary people and welcoming audiences back to our campus.”

Gloria Estefan to Host This Year’s Kennedy Center Honors

Gloria Estefan is returning with Honors

The 63-year-old Cuban Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and actress will host the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in June.

Gloria Estefan

It’ll be her second time hosting the event, following her previous stint as emcee in 2018.

The event will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday, June 6, 8:00 pm ET/PT, and will available to stream live and on demand on the CBS app and Paramount+.

Estefan received a Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.

This year’s previously announced recipients are Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks and violinist Midori.

CBS has broadcast the event every year since it’s debut 43 years ago.

Traditionally held in early December, last year’s Kennedy Center Honors special was postponed until May 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joan Baez Among This Year’s Recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors

Joan Baez is set to receive a special honor in Our Nation’s Capital.

The 80-year-old half-Mexican American contemporary folk singer has been selected to receive the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors alongside Garth Brooks, violinist Midori, choreographer Debbie Allen and the ageless Dick Van Dyke.

Joan Baez

“It has been my life’s joy to make art,” said Baez in a statement. It’s also been my life’s joy to make, as the late Congressman John Lewis called it, ‘good trouble.’ What luck to have been born with the ability to do both; each one giving strength and credibility to the other.”

Traditionally held in December, the 2020 edition of the Kennedy Center Honors was postponed to May 2021 due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live events and filming are planned for the week of May 17-22. The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on CBS as a two-hour primetime special that will air on June 6 at 9:00 pm ET/PT.

But the pandemic will have an impact on how the event is staged, with live-filmed tributes and virtual moments to take the place of the traditional event in a packed Kennedy Center Opera House.

“The center’s entire campus will come alive with small, in-person events and re-envisioned virtual tributes. Featuring multiple events for physically-distant audiences in locations across the Kennedy Center’s campus…Programs for each event will encompass both performances and speaking tributes for the honorees,” according to a statement. “Virtual events will also be held throughout the week beginning May 17, and the viability of additional in-person events will be considered as COVID-19 safety protocols evolve over the upcoming months…An honoree medallion ceremony for the honorees and a limited audience will be hosted by the Kennedy Center during [the week of] May 17–22.”

Joan Baez

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to attend the Honors Gala, as presidents traditionally have done (barring a national crisis). Donald Trump was the first president to decline the invitation every year of his term.

This is the first time in five years that a majority of the honorees have been women. Carole King, Rita Moreno and Cicely Tyson were three of the five honorees in 2015.

“The Kennedy Center Honors serves as a moment to celebrate the remarkable artists who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world,” said David M. Rubenstein, Kennedy Center Chairman.

Here’s a look at each of this year’s honorees:

Joan Baez: The folk legend had three top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1960s, including Farewell, Angelina. Her classic version of Robbie Robertson’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. Baez was just 21 when she made the cover of Time in November 1962. Baez has one of the longest spans of Grammy nominations in history, from 1962 to 2018. She has yet to win a Grammy in competition (despite nine nods), but she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2007.

Garth Brooks: The country star, 58, is one of the best-selling recording artists in history. The RIAA lists him second only to The Beatles, with 157 million albums sold in the U.S. (compared to 183 million for the Fab Four). He has had nine No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, including Ropin’ the Wind, which topped the chart for 18 weeks, still the record for a country album. Brooks has amassed 14 CMA Awards, including a record seven awards for entertainer of the year. He was artist of the decade for the 1990s at the ACM Awards. He has won two Grammys. He received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song last year. He made the cover of Time in 1992 in a story headlined “Country’s Big Boom.”

Midori: The Japanese-born American violinist, 49, was just 19 when she received her first (and to date only) Grammy nomination for best classical performance, instrumental soloist (without orchestra) for the album Paganini: 24 Caprices For Solo Violin Op. 1. She made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11 as a surprise guest soloist at the New Year’s Eve Gala in 1982. 

Dick Van Dyke: The actor, 95, won three Emmys for The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66), which is widely regarded as the granddaddy of smart, sophisticated sitcoms. He also won an Emmy in 1977 for Van Dyke & Company, which took outstanding variety or music series. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. He won a Tony in 1961 for Bye, Bye Birdie (in which he introduced the jaunty “Put on a Happy Face”) and a Grammy for 1964’s Mary Poppins (in which he took the lead in singing the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee”).

Debbie Allen: The actress, dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, director and producer, 70, has won three Emmys for choreography: two for Fame and one for Motown 30: What’s Goin’ On. She also received two Tony nods for acting in revivals of West Side Story (1980) and Sweet Charity (1986). She is a former member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

AFI to Honor Rita Moreno During This Year’s Virtual AFI Fest

Rita Moreno is ready to talk shop as part of a special night…

The 88-year-old Puerto Rican Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress will be honored during this year’s virtual AFI Fest, which will take place from October 15-22.

Rita Moreno

Moreno, who currently stars on PopTV’s One Day at a Time, will be honored alongside Sofia CoppolaKirby Dick and Mira Nair, with each taking par t in an evening of conversation celebrating their careers.

“Artists of this caliber are essential players in our global culture,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “To honor each of them – and all of them – at AFI FEST will prove a symphony of talent at a time the world needs it most.”

Moreno’s career began with a Broadway debut at 13 years old. Since then she has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business – an Oscar, a Tony, two Emmys, and a Grammy – as well as a Peabody Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. Moreno has also been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Moreno received an Honorary Degree from the AFI Conservatory in 2016.

Moreno is starring in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which will debut in theaters in December of 2021. She currently stars on the remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, One Day at a Time. 

First Trailer Released for Linda Ronstadt Documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”

Linda Ronstadt’s life in music is headed to the big screen…

The official trailer has been released for the documentary about the legendary 73-year-old half-Mexican American singer, “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”

Linda Ronstadt

The feature documentary takes an insider’s look at one of the most successful recording acts of the 20th century.

“Linda cold literally sing anything,” longtime friend and occasional collaborator Dolly Parton says in the trailer. And how. Along with a long string of pop hits, the singer from Tucson, Arizona, has recorded and toured with such disparate styles as opera, jazz, and Mexican folk.

Ronstadt was 21 when she first hit the national charts with the Stone Poneys’ “Different Drum,” a song penned by Monkees’ Michael Nesmith. Her plaintive vocal leapt off the radio from the opening line, and the track just missed the BillboardTop 10. By the early ’70s, her backing band included Glenn FreyDon HenleyRandy Meisnerand Bernie Leadon, who would go on be Eagles.

By the mid-’70s, Ronstadt was cranking out smash singles and multiplatinum albums as fast as the public could consume them. Three of her LPs hit No. 1 en route to her becoming the most successful female singer of the decade, selling out stadiums around the world.

Ronstadt, who also is part of the Kennedy Center Honors Class of 2019, also been an outspoken political advocate for causes like same-sex marriage and the inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants, never shying away from fighting for what she believes both on and off the stage. She retired several years ago when Parkinson’s disease left her unable to sing.

Two-time Oscar winner Rob Epstein and Oscar nominee Jeffrey Friedman directed the doc from Greenwich Entertainment1091 and CNN Films.

Greenwich opens the doc on September 6.