WASHINGTON – When Carol Burnett launched her namesake variety show in the 1960s, one TV executive told her the genre was “a man’s game.” She proved him wrong with an 11-year run that averaged 30 million viewers each week.
On Sunday, the trailblazing comedian received the nation’s top humor prize at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Top entertainers including Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and others performed in Burnett’s honor as she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The show will be broadcast Nov. 24 on PBS stations.
“This is very encouraging,” Burnett deadpanned in accepting the prize. “I mean it was a long time in coming, but I understand because there are so many people funnier than I am, especially here in Washington. “With any luck, they’ll soon get voted out, and I’ll still have the Mark Twain prize.”
Fey opened with some jokes about the recent government shutdown. “Enough politics. We are here tonight to celebrate the first lady of American comedy, Ted Cruz,” Fey said, referring to the Texas senator who took a prominent role that led to the shutdown. Fey quickly turned to showering Burnett with accolades for opening doors for other women comedians.
“You mean so much to me,” Fey said. “I love you in a way that is just shy of creepy.”
Diahann Carroll honored by peers
Diahann Carroll, actress, singer and Golden Globe winner, was honored at a House of Flowers dinner Saturday evening in Los Angeles. Beverly Johnson, Angela Bassett, Regina King and Anika Noni Rose were in attendance to applaud Carroll and fellow honoree Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The dinner was hosted by TV producer Tracey Edmonds and film and TV producer Debra Martin Chase. Conceptualized by Chase and deemed House of Flowers after Truman Capote’s Broadway play, in which Carroll starred in 1954, the affair was meant to “celebrate female empowerment and to help open doors for future accomplishments,” Edmonds said.
the band played on: The violin played on the deck of the Titanic while the doomed liner tilted and slowly sank into the icy North Atlantic a century ago sold for $1.45 million — more than twice the amount anticipated. The battered instrument set a world record for a single item of Titanic memorabilia, according to Henry Aldridge & Son, the auction house in southwestern England that sells Titanic memorabilia.