‘Sesame Street’ to receive Kennedy Center Honors

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Sesame Street Characters (L-R) Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby attend HBO Premiere of Sesame Street's The Magical Wand Chase at the Metrograph on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for HBO)

WASHINGTON — Long-running children’s TV show “Sesame Street” is among the recipients the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievements in the arts.

Actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, the disco-funk band Earth Wind and Fire and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will also receive the honor on Dec. 15.

“Sesame Street” debuted in 1969 and remains a force in children’s educational television. The show now airs new episodes on HBO, and they are rebroadcast months later on the show’s original home, PBS. The co-founders of “Sesame Street,” Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, will accept the award on behalf of the show.

Field, 72, was a television star at age 19 and went on to forge a distinguished career that included two Academy Awards and three Emmys. She starred last year in a Netflix miniseries called “Maniac.”

Ronstadt was one of the faces of American music in the 1970s and 1980s, landing on the cover of Time magazine in 1977. In 2011, she announced her retirement from singing, citing the advancing effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Tilson Thomas, who has served as music director of the San Francisco Symphony for the past 24 years, has become particularly renowned for his interpretations of the entire works of Gustav Mahler.

Earth, Wind and Fire was originally formed in Chicago by lead singer Maurice White. The group drew elements from rhythm and blues, funk, and disco in a flashy crowd-pleasing mix that spawned eight No. 1 hits. Songs such as “September” and “Shining Star” remain in heavy rotation for both radio station programmers and wedding DJs.

Each recipient was to be honored with a personalized presentation that in the past has in included surprise guests. Last year, Cher was shocked to find her friend Cyndi Lauper walking onstage to deliver a tribute; Lauper had openly lied and said she would be out of town.

Once again, the attendance of President Donald Trump had been an open question. President Trump skipped the past two celebrations; the first time, multiple recipients threatened to boycott the event if he attended.

The White House said Friday that neither President Trump nor first lady Melania Trump would attend because they planned to host a Christmas party for members of the Secret Service and their families. The Kennedy Center’s president, Deborah Rutter, said in an interview earlier this year that “they are always invited.”

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