February 23, 2012 8:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
CBS Extends Kennedy Center Honors Pact Through 2018
The Kennedy Center Honors will continue to call CBS home.
The network on Thursday announced a new pact to keep the special on the network through 2018 under a new pact with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"The Kennedy Center Honors continues to be one of the most prestigious broadcasts on all of television, and we are honored to be its host," CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement announcing the deal. "It is a unique event that reinforces our country's collective appreciation for the performing arts with tremendous class, style and, yes, entertainment."
The annual honors recognize individuals for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts and are selected by the Kennedy Center's board of trustees.
Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, Sonny Rollins andMeryl Streep were feted by President Obama at the 2011 ceremony that featured guests including Stephen Colbert, Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman and Anne Hathaway, among others.
The Washington arts event, which CBS has carried since its debut in 1978, was down year-over-year in its December broadcast, drawing about 8.5 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
"We are pleased to renew this commitment with CBS," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said. "We value and respect the strong commitment of Leslie Moonves and CBS to the performing arts and look forward to honoring the best of the arts in America."
The Kennedy Center Honors has taken home the Emmy for outstanding variety, musical or comedy special for the past three years. George Stevens Jr. co-created the honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff and has produced and co-written the show for 34 years. Michael Stevens has produced and co-written the show for the past five years.