Letterman, Hoffman, Zeppelin honored by Obama
President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama, second from right, with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors recipients, ballerina Natalia Makarova, left, and actor and director Dustin Hoffman, stand as the National Anthem is played during the Kennedy Center Honors Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON (AP) — David Letterman's "stupid human tricks" and Top 10 lists vaulted into the ranks of cultural acclaim Sunday night as the late-night comedian received this year's Kennedy Center Honors with rock band Led Zeppelin, an actor, a ballerina and a bluesman.
Stars from New York, Hollywood and the music world joined President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday night to salute the honorees, whose ranks also include actor Dustin Hoffman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.
The honors are the nation's highest award for those who influenced American culture through the arts. The recipients were later saluted by fellow performers at the Kennedy Center Opera House in a show to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS.
Obama drew laughs from his guests when he described the honorees as "some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together."
President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama, second from right, with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors recipients, from left, rock band Led Zeppelin keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, comedian and television host David Letterman, bluesman Buddy Guy, ballerina Natalia Makarova and actor and director Dustin Hoffman, stand as the National Anthem is played during the Kennedy Center Honors Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Noting that Guy made his first guitar strings using the wire from a window screen, he quipped, "That worked until his parents started wondering how all the mosquitoes were getting in."
The president thanked the members of Led Zeppelin for behaving themselves at the White House given their history of "hotel rooms trashed and mayhem all around."
Obama noted Letterman's humble beginnings as an Indianapolis weatherman who once reported the city was being pelted by hail 'the size of canned hams.'"
"It's one of the highlights of his career," he said.
All kidding aside, Obama described all of the honorees as artists who "inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world."
"It's that unique power that makes the arts so important," he added.