Tom Hanks and Sting joined Lily Tomlin and singer Al Green in being awarded this year’s Kennedy Center Honors for influencing American culture through the arts.
Top performers and power players from Hollywood, Broadway and Washington gathered Sunday to salute them in a gala performance. The show, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will be broadcast Dec. 30 on CBS.
David Letterman led a series of tributes for Hanks, reciting some of the actor’s unforgettable lines from his movie like, “Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates.”
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who collaborated with Hanks on many projects, said “America’s favorite son” has opened a window on the nation with such movies as Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan.
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Before the show, Hanks, 58, joked that a mistake must have been made in the choice for a fifth honoree.
Among those paying tribute to Sting: Bruce Springsteen.
“[He] makes me feel like a musical Neanderthal. When we get together, we always have the same argument. He insists that there are more than three chords, while I insist that there are not,” Springsteen said, drawing laughs. “In an age of musical homogenization, no one has ever sounded or sang like my friend.”
The ex Police frontman, 63, told The Associated Press he was bewildered by the honor.
“You know, for an Englishman to receive this reward, it’s not unique, but it’s rare, and I take that pretty seriously,” he said. “To come to this country in 1978 with no prospects at all and then to end up here … it’s quite a journey.”
Jane Lynch, Reba McEntire, Jane Fonda and Kate McKinnon celebrated Tomlin and her many characters that make people laugh.
“No one is more loyal,” Fonda said. “You get Lily, and you have her for life.”
Leading entertainers, including Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire sang some of Green’s greatest hits, and Whoopi Goldberg lauded Green for his unmistakable sound.
“Al Green can caress a lyric like no one else,” Goldberg said.
President Barack Obama saluted the honorees Sunday at the White House before the show.