And the 35th annual Kennedy Center Honors  go to:

TV giant David Letterman, distinguished actor Dustin Hoffman, magical ballerina Natalia Makarova, influential blues guitarist Buddy Guy, and the potent rock band Led Zeppelin -- keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant will each receive one of the awards.

(2012 is a shutout year for classical music, but that genre is bound to get back into the picture before too long.)  


Here's a statement released Wednesday morning from Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein:

With their ...

extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world.

Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century;

Dustin Hoffman's unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation;

David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm;

Natalia Makarova's profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world's greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers;

and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands.

The medallions will be presented to the artists Dec. 1 at the State Department during a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Dec. 2, a gala event will be held at the Kennedy Center and taped for broadcast on CBS Dec. 26.

For a photo gallery of all the honorees: 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees