Stephen Colbert, Cecily Strong snare big hosting gigs

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As Stephen Colbert moves closer to taking over David Letterman’s desk on “Late Show” on CBS, the comedian and TV star has just been announced as the host for the 37th annual Kennedy Center Honors, which will air on CBS at 8 p.m. Dec. 30. The actual honors gala will be held, as always, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

As was previously announced, the 2014 recipients of the prestigious awards will be singer Al Green, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride, singer-songwriter Sting and comedian and actress Lily Tomlin.

“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes excellence on a national stage and we are pleased that a man of Stephen’s accomplishment will host the show. He is best in class and will no doubt undo any solemnity that might otherwise attend the occasion,” said co-producer George Stevens Jr., who conceived the “Honors” in 1978.

In perfect Colbert fashion, the newly named emcee said in a statement, “I am stunned to be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor at such a young age. I thought it would be years before. …  I’m sorry. I’m being told I am HOSTING the Kennedy Center Honors. Oh … well, I’m glad. That makes a lot more sense.”

• Also announced Wednesday was “Saturday Night Live” star and Oak Park native Cecily Strong as the host and entertainer at next year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Besides her “SNL” and improv background honed at Chicago’s iO and Second City, Strong also has a powerful tie to the world of journalism. Her father, Bill Strong, served as Associated Press bureau chief in Springfield, covering the Illinois Statehouse.

Strong will be the fourth female host of the annual event, following in the footsteps of Paula Poundstone, Elayne Boosler and Wanda Sykes. A highlight of the April 25 dinner is a humorous address by the President to the assembled guests: media bigwigs, Washington politicians and Hollywood celebrities.

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