Thursday, December 31, 2015

About the 2015 Kennedy Center honors

This year's Kennedy Center honorees were Rita Moreno, George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Seiji Ozawa, and Carole King.

Most of the tributes were entertaining and classy. I especially enjoyed Tyler Perry's anecdote about working with Cicely Tyson; he deftly turned from the very funny story to a heartfelt encomium and never hit a false note. The gospel performance ending the tribute to Miss Tyson was great, not least because of her delighted smile and enthusiastic gesticulations. Many have praised Aretha Franklin's show-stopping rendition of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". (Carole King's obvious elation contributes heavily to this segment's impact.)

The salute to George Lucas, though, had a baffling misfire: the segment on music's importance to his films. The live accompaniment was jarringly thin compared to the original soundtracks. Worse, the segment ended with an out-of-nowhere, totally pointless parade of Imperial stormtroopers. Huh?

Improbably, the stormtroopers returned during the final number of the show, a star-studded rendition of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move". Again, they stood around while the likes of Sara Bareilles, Aretha Franklin and James Taylor performed.

These missteps didn't ruin the show but they were weirdly off-key. Was a seven-year-old an assistant producer? Or might this have been a sly (and unkind) swipe at Lucas' habit of sabotaging his films with juvenile touches? Hmm ... no, that sounds too meta for this show. The boring truth is probably that some producer had both a lousy idea and the authority to realize it.

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