David Letterman’s CBS show was dark the day that the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the chosen ones for this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. But the host of the late-night show released a statement Wednesday saying: “This is something wonderful for my family, my co-workers and myself. I believe recognition at this prestigious level confirms my belief that there has been a mix-up. I am still grateful to be included.”
Letterman’s Worldwide Pants confirms that the notoriously reclusive figure plans to show up for the fete, at which he will not have to be on stage or speak. But in keeping with the three-decades-old franchise’s odd-ish format, he will sit in the mezzanine with the president of the United States and the first lady, draped in the traditional looks-good-on-no-outfit, rainbow-ribboned medal, while others pay him tribute from the stage — including, presumably, Craig Ferguson, host of the other CBS late-night show produced by Worldwide Pants.
A few months ago, Letterman was a no-show at the TV Critics Association Awards. But then, so was practically everyone, except the cast of “Homeland” and emcee Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad.” The TCA bestowed on Letterman its Career Achievement Award.
“I wish I could be with you tonight in Los Angeles, and I would be, but those of you who are friends . . . know tonight is the night I eat glass,” Letterman said in a taped acceptance speech. He instead sent a guy to the TCA Awards who looked like him to pick up his trophy.
Letterman was picked to be feted by the Kennedy Center because he — like his fellow honorees, actor Dustin Hoffman, members of the band Led Zeppelin, blues great Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova — has “contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.
“David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm,” Rubenstein added.