The 2012 recipients include Led Zeppelin, being honored as a band as well as each living original member: Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant.
The honorees will be presented with their Kennedy Center Honors Medallion on Saturday December 1st.
The next night, Dec 2nd, the annual honors gala at the Kennedy Center Opera House. The honorees will be presented to the President and Mrs. Obama at the White House prior to the gala. The gala will be broadcast as a 2-hour primetime special on CBS on Dec 26th at 9:00PM.
Honorees don't normally perform at the gala and there is no expectation that Led Zeppelin will reunite for the occasion (this is not aisle 6 of Swapper Jack's).
From the Kennedy Center webpage:
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 annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. On Sunday, December 2, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2012 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 1, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 35th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Wednesday, December 26 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)...
The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts-whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television-are selected by the Center's Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.
Past Honors recipients, as well as members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, made recommendations of possible 2012 Honorees. Artists making recommendations included: Alan Alda, Joshua Bell, Stephen Colbert, Renée Fleming, Kris Kristofferson, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mark Morris, Lionel Richie, Frederica von Stade. Previous Kennedy Center Honorees, including Edward Albee, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kirk Douglas, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, and Oprah Winfrey, also made nominations.
Other 2012 honorees are blues guitarist Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, television host David Letterman and ballerina Natalia Makarova.