McCartney, Levine Among Kennedy Center Honorees

Former Beatle Paul McCartney and conductor James Levine are among those who will receive this year's honors from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Honors will also be bestowed upon a

Former Beatle Paul McCartney and conductor James Levine are among those who will receive this year's honors from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Honors will also be bestowed upon actors Elizabeth Taylor, James Earl Jones, and Chita Rivera.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will present the 25th annual honors at a Dec. 7 State Department dinner in Washington, D.C. The following evening, the honorees will be feted with a gala performance and supper dance in Washington, D.C., which will be taped by CBS for later broadcast as a two-hour primetime special on an as-yet-unspecified December date.

Prior to the gala, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will receive the honorees at the White House, and will also attend the later festivities.

"Recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts," the Kennedy Center said in a statement. "The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines."

In making the announcement of the honorees, Kennedy Center chairman James A. Johnson referred to Levine as "a brilliant musician who for three decades has led one of the world's foremost opera companies [the Metropolitan Opera] to unsurpassed artistic excellence," and McCartney as "one of the most prolific and influential songwriters of our era."

For more information, visit the official Kennedy Center Web site.