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Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 11/30/2012

It’s Kennedy Center Honors time: Let’s try to guess the surprise guests

Meryl Streep at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011: Will she return as a presenter this year? (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
Autograph hounds, to your stations! It’s Kennedy Center Honors weekend, one of D.C.’s biggest annual A-list gatherings. But while we know the honorees — Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova and the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin — they’re only a fraction of the star power expected; organizers try to keep the names of the presenters under wraps until they hit the stage Sunday (or at least until they arrive at pre-show festivities Saturday). (*See also: How do some federal VIPs get pricey Kennedy Center Honors tickets? Donations.)

But after years of observing the producers’ picks, we can attempt some purely speculative educated guesses about who might turn out to pay tribute.

Oprah: What are the odds she comes back? (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
• For Buddy Guy: Eric Clapton, an acolyte of the blues legend, would be a good get. But younger guitar heroes like Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Gary Clark Jr. — maybe even John Mayer? — might be easier to book.

• For Hoffman: High-profile co-stars Meryl Streep (“Kramer vs. Kramer”) and Robert Redford (“All the President’s Men”) are past honorees, a cohort the KenCen often taps to return the favor.

• For Letterman: His good pal and ’07 honoree Steve Martin is a good bet. Or Jon Stewart, who paid tribute to Springsteen here in ’09. Or — this would be delicious — 2010 honoree Oprah Winfrey.

Dave Grohl and wife Jordyn at the Kennedy Center honorees in 2010. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
• For Makarova: Fellow Soviet defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, an honoree from 2000, would be sweet. Or fellow prima ballerina Suzanne Farrell, an ’05 honoree.

• For Led Zeppelin: British peers like Daltrey/Townshend or Paul McCartney are tough to book. But grunge god Dave Grohl has graced the Honors before and might agree to salute his forebears.

(Video link: Steve Martin congratulations Letterman on Kennedy Center Honors)

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Mikhail Baryshnikov as a potential future Kennedy Center honoree. He received the honor in 2000.

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By  |  05:00 AM ET, 11/30/2012

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