The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced the all-star line-up of performers who will be honoring playwright Neil Simon when he receives the Mark Twain Prize in October:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 29, 2006Leading American Entertainers
Jason Alexander, Richard Dreyfus, Nathan Lane,
Cyndi Lauper, Robert Redford, Paul Reiser, Mercedes Ruehl, Jonathan Silverman and others
Salute Kennedy Center “Mark Twain Prize" Recipient
at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall
October 15, 2006Program to be broadcast nationally on PBS
as part of WETA Washington, D.C.’s “The Kennedy Center Presents” series
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Leading American entertainers Jason Alexander, Richard Dreyfus, Nathan Lane, Cyndi Lauper, Robert Redford, Paul Reiser, Mercedes Ruehl, Jonathan Silverman and others to be announced will salute Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize recipient Neil Simon in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Sunday, October 15 at 8 p.m. The program, to be taped for the sixth year by WETA Washington, D.C. as The Kennedy Center Presents: The 2006 Mark Twain Prize, will air on PBS stations nationwide on Mon., Nov. 20 at 9pm ET (check local listings). Tickets are on sale now for the general public.
Neil Simon, born in the Bronx on July 4, 1927, is America’s foremost playwright. For more than four decades, his plays have invigorated the stage with poignant stories and zany characters known for their family-based New York settings. He has authored more than 40 Broadway plays since 1961, ranging from humorous, lighthearted conceits (Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple) to deeper, autobiographical works (Chapter Two, the Eugene trilogy featuring Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound). Simon contributed librettos to such hit musical comedies as Sweet Charity; Promises, Promises and They’re Playing Our Song. As a screenwriter, he has had more than a dozen major motion pictures produced (including The Goodbye Girl, Lost in Yonkers). Perhaps his greatest contribution has been his extraordinary ability to create humor from the good things and bad in the lives of everyday people. He has been showered with more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer, and is the only playwright to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously. His plays have been produced in dozens of languages and have been wildly popular from Beijing to Moscow. Simon is the recipient of three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Drama Desk Award, an American Comedy Award, a Golden Globe and the Kennedy Center Honors.
The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize focuses on those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences. The proceeds of the evening are used for the Kennedy Center Education Department’s programs. As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, Simon will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain* sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and images of it are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford, Connecticut.
During the Concert Hall event, the Kennedy Center will present Simon with its Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, named after one of America’s, as well as the world’s, greatest humorists. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens—the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist also known as Mark Twain*—was a fearless observer of society who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
The event is a joint production of the Kennedy Center, Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky and Cappy McGarr. Executive Producers for The Kennedy Center Presents: The 2006 Mark Twain Prize are David S. Thompson and Dalton Delan of WETA Washington, D.C. and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in 1998. Recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize have been Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004) and Steve Martin (2005).
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office or charged by phone at (202) 467-4600 or toll-free at (800) 444-1324 for people calling from outside the Washington area.
The Mark Twain Prize show and events are sponsored through the generosity of Merrill Lynch. Support for the Mark Twain Production is provided by American Airlines.###