February 26, 2024

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Meg Ryan harasses Billy Crystal

Meg Ryan harasses Billy Crystal

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WASHINGTON – This year’s Kennedy Center Honors Gala had something for everyone. the opera? Checks. comedy? Checks. Hip Hop? Checks. Pop? Checks. Champagne flutes during the break? Checks.

This diversity makes sense when you consider the recipients of the 46th Kennedy Center Honors — singer Dionne Warwick; actor and comedian Billy Crystal; Actress, singer and rapper Queen Latifah; soprano Renée Fleming; and singer-songwriter Barry Gibb. Five different artists who share two crucial elements: an unwavering commitment to their craft and a lot of love to give to the world around them.

Hollywood royalty and politicians (i.e. Washington royalty), including President Joe Biden, arrived in formal attire to celebrate the honorees at a ceremony that will air on December 27 at 9 PM ET on CBS.

The laughter continued, the applause echoed, and heads buzzed as the lyrics and tender melodies flowed — from “I Say a Little Prayer for You” to “Stay Alive.”

Dionne Warwick: a “long overdue” honor.

Everyone’s (small) prayers were answered when tributes to Dionne Warwick began the night. Former Kennedy Center Laureate Debbie Allen has chronicled the highlights of her career and life.

“Many would say this honor is long overdue, as her list of accomplishments and accolades could wrap around this building,” Allen said. She’s right: The 82-year-old has sold more than 100 million records. He became the first African-American singer to win a Grammy Award in the pop category. He was an early voice and advocate for AIDS research and served as a government-appointed health ambassador. Also: Have you seen her sassy Twitter account?

A big part of Warwick’s legacy, of course, was her famous collaborations with the late Burt Bacharach and Hal David for nearly 20 singles, including “Don’t Make Me Over.”

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Many of Warwick’s songs have been sung on the Kennedy Center stage. Mickey Guyton, wearing a glamorous red dress, gave a diva-worthy rendition of “Then Came You.” The singer continued with a stunning rendition of Cynthia Erivo’s “Alfie,” which drew an early standing ovation. Chloe Bailey and former honoree Gladys Knight concluded their love for the singer with “Walk on By” and “I Say A Little Pray,” respectively.

However, no tribute to Warwick would be complete without Ego Nwodim, who played Warwick on Saturday Night Live. “They’re all very good. One of the first tweets was ‘If Chance the Rapper is obviously a rapper, why does it have to be in his name?’ Something like that,” she told USA TODAY of one of her favorite tweets on Warwick’s site.

“Life is better” because of Billy Crystal

Did you know that Billy Crystal, 75, came up with those memorable words from “When Harry Met Sally?” The “I’ll have what she’s got” line from the 1989 romantic comedy has resonated across generations — so much so that one of the centerpieces of Crystal’s Kennedy Center Honors exhibit was set up in Katz’s Delicatessen pop-up shop.

While star Meg Ryan didn’t exactly repeat her performance in the film, she did have some fun at Crystal’s expense.

“The scene came very naturally to me, and I really have to thank Billy for that,” she said, prompting audience members to immediately laugh. And again, when she was kidding, she had never been around anyone who made faking an orgasm easier.

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Then she became happy: “As his wife of more than 50 years, Janice, knows, falling in love with Billy is very easy.” (amazing.)

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Jay Leno, Bob Costas, Whoopi Goldberg (who shouted at his late “Comic Relief” duet partner, Robin Williams), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Robert De Niro (who struggled to read a teleprompter all night) and Rob Reiner all also offered up lyrics. An honest person with a big heart.

“My life is better because Billy Crystal was in it,” Reiner said. “I love you, Bill.”

Queen Latifah: “One of the best rappers ever.”

You might know her from Chicago. Or “equalizer”. Or “Last Holiday” (she told USA TODAY on the red carpet that she would “love” to make a sequel to this 2006 romantic comedy, for the record). But the evening was mostly about hip-hop’s fierce, fearless roots.

Queen Latifah, 53, is the first female rapper to receive a Kennedy Center honor — timely, given that this year marks hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. Everyone from MC Lyte to Rapsody have kissed the queen’s ring, so to speak, including the adorable 5-year-old rapper Van Van. “Thank you for being an inspiration,” she said in the sweetest voice imaginable to someone past their bedtime. “We salute you.”

“I started out as a rapper, when success was an anomaly because the genre was mostly male,” said her friend and actress Kerry Washington. “But she continued to dominate, becoming one of the best rappers of all time, male or female.”

The audience couldn’t help but wave their arms to her hit song “UNITY” — but it was Missy Elliott’s speech that drove Queen Latifah’s impact home. In her eyes, Queen Latifah’s “Queen” title sent a message: “I’m not going to put the tape on. I’m… I be bar.”

An empowering electro cover of The Clark Sisters’ “I Know Where You’ve Been” closed the segment and ended (literally) on a high note before a short intermission.

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Renee Fleming: “Don’t accept your limits.”

Renée Fleming and opera are practically synonymous. But her talents extend beyond opera to jazz, Broadway, and even indie rock. She is also a prominent advocate for arts, health, and neuroscience research.

The performances honored reflected their vocal diversity, from the operatic quartet’s “Song to the Moon (Rusalka)” to Dove Cameron’s “The Light in the Piazza” to “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” featuring voices including Tituss Burgess and Christine Baranski. .

As for advice for aspiring singers: “Double major because it’s a very competitive field, and it’s hard to get into,” she told USA TODAY on the red carpet. And also “don’t accept your limitations.” Work hard and master all your skills, and be prepared for years of Training.

Ariana DeBose and Ben Platt sing for Barry Gibb

from He didn’t do that Working with Barry Gibb? Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, fellow honoree Dionne Warwick – the list goes on and on for the Bee Gees singer. His late brothers Robin and Maurice were not present but it is clear that the power of music is eternal. The first notes for Little Big Town’s cover of “Lonely Days” quickly made that clear.

Bublé then sang “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” followed by Ben Platt with an apt “Nights on Broadway” that showcased the showman’s dancing skills.

Ariana DeBose closed the show with a medley of disco hits — including “Stayin’ Alive” — that ended the night appropriately with confetti.

Just as those little yellow pieces of paper will follow Washingtonians for days, so will music and memories. Other Kennedy Center honors. We’ll toast another champagne flute for that.

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