- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

American homage

The stars came to the District earlier this month for the 29th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, and if you didn’t score an invite to that exclusive event, you can catch the performances tonight at 9 in a two-hour special on CBS.

The artists honored for their contributions to American culture this year were conductor Zubin Mehta, country superstar Dolly Parton, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg and musical theater giant Andrew Lloyd Webber. Caroline Kennedy hosted the black-tie gala at the Opera House of the Kennedy Center on Dec. 3.

The tributes flowed lavishly throughout the ceremony. The Temptations and India.Arie sang for Mr. Robinson; violinist Pinchas Zukerman played for Mr. Mehta; Mr. Lloyd Webber’s ex-wife and ex-muse Sarah Brightman sang for him; Kenny Rogers sang for his old duet partner, Miss Parton; and Tom Hanks honored Mr. Spielberg — who directed him in 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan.” More presenters and performers are also on tap.

One you won’t see, however, is Jessica Simpson. Unsatisfied with her performance, the “Dukes of Hazzard” star asked that her rendition of Miss Parton’s classic song, “9-to-5,” not be shown.

• Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and Web reports.

King’ canned

Looks like the once-popular blue-collar sitcom genre has run its course.

CBS announced last week that the latest season of “The King of Queens” will be its last, E! Online reports.

Now in its ninth year, “King” became the longest-running sitcom on television this year when “Will & Grace” and “That ‘70s Show” left the airwaves. It stars Kevin James as overweight parcel delivery truck driver Doug Heffernan, who lives with his hot and sassy wife Carrie (played by Leah Remini) and her odd-duck father (Jerry Stiller).

The first episode of the show’s two-episode broadcast on Dec. 6 — despite being in a new time slot Wednesday at 8 p.m. — attracted 9.4 million viewers, with the second half-hour gaining 700,000 viewers. The show’s announced cancellation arrived on the heels of its first Emmy nomination earlier this year, with a Best Actor nod for Mr. James.

“King” flirted with cancellation in the fall but received a 13-episode renewal for the current season. The show will return to Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on April 9, where it will follow “Two and a Half Men,” which is often the only sitcom to break into the Nielsen ratings’ top 25 each week.

Another underrated CBS blue-collar comedy, “Still Standing,” ended in March. It starred Mark Addy (“A Knight’s Tale”) and Jami Gertz (“Less than Zero”) as a pair of hilariously neglectful Chicago parents.

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