Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TOUCHING ME, TOUCHING YOUUUUUUU:  Three reactions to last night's Kennedy Center Honors:
  • It is rather odd, as someone on Twitter pointed out to me, that only two Hispanic/Latino artists have ever been so honored -- Plácido Domingo, 2000, and Chita Rivera, 2002. It has never been difficult to get Carlos Santana to show up at an awards ceremony. Or, perhaps, Rubén Blades? Do we need to wait 20-30 years for Gloria Estefan and John Leguizamo to win?
  • It is rather odd to have "Sweet Caroline" performed at a ceremony hosted by the woman who, as a nine-year-old, inspired it.
  • So the Neil Diamond tribute got Carrie and I to tweeting about The Jazz Singer, as one does, and she couldn't help but wonder: is there a more mismatched father-son on screen than Sir Laurence Olivier and Neil Diamond? I responded with William Daniels and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate,** to which both Carrie and Adam C. countered with Family Business, with Sean Connery as Hoffman's dad and Hoffman as Matthew Broderick's. Surely you can add to the list.
** As Mike Nichols later recounted, "My unconscious was making this movie. It took me years before I got what I had been doing all along — that I had been turning Benjamin into a Jew. I didn't get it until I saw this hilarious issue of MAD magazine after the movie came out, in which the caricature of Dustin says to the caricature of Elizabeth Wilson, 'Mom, how come I'm Jewish and you and Dad aren't?' And I asked myself the same question, and the answer was fairly embarrassing and fairly obvious."


  1. Benner11:29 AM

    James Earl Jones and Mark Hamill?

  2. Isn't it really Hayden Christensen and Mark Hamill?

  3. I really enjoyed the show last night, but I didn't really get the tribute to Barbara Cook. But how else do you honor a singer? Everyone else got personal tributes--Streep from co-stars, Diamond and Rollins with their work performed, and Ma's wide-ranging musical groups. Maybe it's because I knew the least about her, but it seemed like, "Here's a bunch of songs you sang once. Too bad you can no longer hit those high notes. Good job!"

  4. isaac_spaceman12:27 PM

    Gloria Estefan and John Leguizamo?  Carlos Santana and Ruben Blades?  I can't tell if you're making a weak argument or exposing it through subtle satire.  Or:

    It is rather odd that only two Asian-Americans have ever been so honored -- Zubin Mehta and Yo-Yo Ma.  It has never been difficult to get Dr. Haing S. Ngor to show up at an awards ceremony.  Or, perhaps, George Takei?  Do we need to wait 20-30 years for Lucy Liu and Daniel Dae Kim? 

  5. Carrie12:44 PM

    @Jen: Buy or download a recording of Cook singing the Bernstein/Hellman "Candide." While I am too young to have seen it on stage or to have heard Cook do cabaret, listening to her sing those songs makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

  6. If there's an argument for Diamond's credentials being better than Santana's someone should make it.  

    As far as future winners of Asian descent, how about Ben Kingsley or Ang Lee? Hayao Miyazaki? 

  7. Jordan1:13 PM

    I wrote that song after a big show at the Forum.  Gary and I had been drinking pretty heavily, and we were diving down this dark road, and I hit a kid.  So, we got out, and sure enough, he was dead.  So, we just took off.  Pretty fast.  And, two hours later, I wrote "Sweet Caroline."

  8. I'll check it out. Thanks for the heads-up. It's funny, as a viola player in a volunteer symphony, I've played the Overture to Candide probably 10 times. It never actually occurred until to me until last night that our totally awesome section solo probably has words that go with it. 

  9. isaac_spaceman1:22 PM

    The Kennedy Center honors are for contributions to American culture through performing arts.  There are arguments to be made about Kingsley and Lee, but I think of Kingsley as a British actor and of Ang Lee as principally a Taiwanese director before Brokeback (and an American one since then) which gives him less than a decade to earn his American culture bona fides.  Miyazaki -- I mean, it would be really difficult to think of anybody who is more essentially Japanese than him.  I mean, you're not going to get too many people guessing wrong if asked to state the provenance of a Miyazaki movie.  Oh, the anime cartoon about the castle that walks around and the one about the magical island with the weird-ass trolley car and the ghost that keeps eating everything and the boy who turns into a dragon?  Was that Nora Ephron?

    Anyway, I wasn't trying to make a point about Asians. 

  10. Benner2:02 PM

    there is also Edward Villella, but the point about the KCHisn't entirely unfair.  There's usually one African American each year, but not more than three.

  11. Once they inducted Daltrey, Townsend and McCartney, door's open for anyone making an impact here.  I agree that the directors are more of a stretch, but these were the names which came to mind first.  

    And it's not like I suggested Jimmy Smits for Hispanic honorees -- Outlaw didn't last long enough.

  12. I believe he's Italian-American.

  13. Adam C.3:27 PM

    To get really nerdy, it was Sebastian Shaw and Mark Hamill, before Lucas crapped all over the original trilogy and, to make matters worse, then went back to RotJ and digitally replaced Shaw's Anakin with Christensen's Anakin. 

  14. Eric J.4:08 PM

    Richard Ward and Steve Martin?

  15. A wonderful group of singers, and how perfect for Audra MacDonald to do "Til There Was You" -- but really, who could top Cook in her prime?  I realize many of her early collaborators aren't around anymore, but certainly someone could have spoken about her.   it would have been great for Sondheim to be there; Barbara Cook singing "Losing My Mind" is one of the great Sondheim interpretations ever.

    I heard Barbara Cook speak years ago and she is a raucous, funny broad.  I think she would have loved a mention of Carrie.