August 29, 2006

Playwright Neil Simon to receive Mark Twain Prize

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Playwright Neil Simon, author of
Broadway fare ranging from "Barefoot in the Park" to "Brighton
Beach Memoirs," will receive this year's Kennedy Center Mark
Twain Prize as a uniquely American humorist.

Simon, also a prolific and award-winning screenwriter, will
be honored on October 15 at a program featuring entertainers
Jason Alexander, Richard Dreyfus, Nathan Lane, Cyndi Lauper,
Robert Redford, Paul Reiser, Mercedes Ruehl and Jonathan
Silverman, a Kennedy Center statement released on Tuesday said.

The award "focuses on those who create humor from their
uniquely American experiences," the statement said.

The prize is named for the 19th century novelist, essayist
and humorist Mark Twain -- whose given name was Samuel Clemens
-- author of the classic novels "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

The Kennedy Center celebration of American humor started in
1998 by honoring Richard Pryor. Other recipients are Jonathan
Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily
Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and Steve Martin.

This year's ceremony will air nationally on November 20 on
PBS television.