MAYBE IT'S JUST THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT. BUT there's something about this time of year that seems to bring out more stars than a solar eclipse. Host-in-chief Bill Clinton kicked things off with the 16th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, Dec. 5, paying tribute to talk show host emeritus Johnny Carson, Dance Theatre of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell, conductor Sir Georg Solti, lyricist/composer Stephen Sondheim and gospel singer Marion Williams. (The awards show will air Dec. 29 on CBS.) One of the highlights: David Letterman honoring his mentor with a list of the Top 10 things we miss about Carson. (No. 10: Got laughs without cheap gimmicks like Top 10 lists.) A visibly moved Carson tried—unsuccessfully—to shrug off the attention. "It's better than people saying bad things to you," he joked after receiving three standing ovations from the SRO audience of 2,700.
Back in Beverly Hills, Carson's successor, Jay Leno, was donning his tux for the fourth annual Fire and Ice Ball at the Beverly Hilton on Dec. 6. Emceed by Mel Gibson, the ball also drew such luminaries as Clint Eastwood, Melanie Griffith and Sylvester Stallone and raised $2.7 million for the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program. Despite the seriousness of the cause, Leno said he was having a good time.
"The women are all attractive, and the men are reasonably handsome," he joked with a glance around the room at the well-heeled crowd. "Except for a couple of guys over there."
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