Kennedy Center Honorees: Comedian Bill Cosby, singer Willie Nelson, film star Shirley Temple Black, composer-conductor Andre Previn and Broadway composers John Kander and Fred Ebb have been selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors for 1998. Recognized for "the unique and invaluable contribution they have made to the cultural life of our nation," Kennedy Center Chairman James A. Johnson described the honorees as "a comic genius who has touched millions [Cosby], two men who together make up the longest-running partnership in Broadway musical history [Kander and Ebb], a man who gave a restless new power to country music [Nelson], a complete musician whose gifts to us have ranged from chamber music and opera to the best of jazz and film scores [Previn], and an actress who, as a child star, defined an era with her warmth and vitality [Temple Black]." Nelson, reached Thursday on his tour bus in Boulder, Colo., noted that the award "has been given to so many people that I've honored and respected, and I'm proud to be a part of the list." Cosby said he was "very honored to receive this award," but noted: "I believe that there are many other people more deserving of this than I am." The honorees--who range in age from 61 (Cosby) to 71 (Kander)--will be saluted Dec. 6 with a gala performance at Washington's Kennedy Center. Past recipients include Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Marilyn Horne, Sidney Poitier, Kirk Douglas, Johnny Carson and Stephen Sondheim.
New Hammer Director: Ann Philbin, director of the Drawing Center in New York since 1990, will succeed Henry T. Hopkins, retiring director of the UCLA/Hammer Museum, sources say. The Westwood museum declined to comment on the appointment, but sources indicate that she will assume her new position around the first of the year. Philbin, 45, received a master's degree in museum studies and arts administration from New York University and worked as a curator and dealer before taking charge of the Drawing Center, a nonprofit institution in SoHo. She is credited with transforming the once-moribund center into a lively community forum and a must-see showcase for a wide variety of works on paper, ranging from Rembrandt-era landscapes to contemporary tattoo drawings and conceptual pieces.
Not A.M. Humor?: Chris Rock found out that his sometimes off-color humor doesn't play well in all time slots when NBC's "Today" show cut the comedian's interview with Matt Lauer from its West Coast feed Wednesday (it ran live in the rest of the country). Rock, talking about Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton, called the prosecutor a "scumbag" and said he'd like to "whip Ken Starr's ass," prompting Lauer to warn Rock, "That's 7:53 a.m. you see on the clock there." A "Today" spokeswoman called Rock's language "inappropriate for morning TV, especially for the many children . . . watching at that hour." In a statement, Rock said: "I find it odd that the people at 'Today' felt that talk of stained dresses and violent crimes was more suitable for morning TV than me joking about whupping Ken Starr."
DMX Cleared: Charges that rap star DMX raped and sodomized a New York stripper were dropped Thursday after genetic tests showed that semen found on the woman was not his. DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was arrested in June; the woman claimed she was attacked after meeting him at a club. Simmons, 27, has maintained that he never met the woman. His debut album, "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot," debuted at No. 1 on the pop chart in May.
"Blade" star Wesley Snipes will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today during 11:30 a.m. ceremonies at 7018 Hollywood Blvd. Whoopi Goldberg is scheduled to make the opening remarks. . . . Filmmakers Robert Wise, Martin Scorsese and Jim Sheridan will be honored for their "considerable contributions to cultural awareness and the advancement of human rights" during the first International Humanitarian Awards and Film Festival in Geneva. Sheridan will attend ceremonies tonight at Geneva's United Nations Palais des Nations, while Wise and Scorsese will participate via satellite from Beverly Hills and New York, respectively. . . . KCET-TV Channel 28's "Cirque Ingenieux," originally scheduled to air tonight at 9, has been moved to Sunday at 3 p.m. . . . The band Ednaswap, who wrote and first recorded the Natalie Imbruglia hit "Torn," will play a free concert tonight at 10 in the parking lot of Tower Records Sunset.