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Will Ferrell: The Mark Twain Prize


Thursday, September 29th, 2011


Airs Monday, October 31 at 8:00 p.m. on WTVP 47.1.


Will Ferrell

Actor, writer and comic genius Will Ferrell is getting comedy’s top honor—and WTVP is taking you to the star-studded presentation ceremony. Will Ferrell: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize airs Monday, October 31 at 8:00 p.m. on WTVP 47.1.

A lineup of top entertainers including Jack Black, Green Day, Larry King, Adam McKay, Lorne Michaels, Conan O'Brien, John C. Reilly, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, and Molly Shannon will gather to toast, roast, serenade and salute Will Ferrell at the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony, taped live on Sunday, October 23, 2011. (Artists subject to change.)

And the laughs continue as Tine Fey: The Mark Twain Prize (2010) encores immediately following at 9:30 p.m.

Will Ferrell has come a long way since his days on Saturday Night Live, crossing over from television icon to motion picture star. Ferrell’s film credits include The Other Guys, Megamind, Stranger Than Fiction (Golden Globe nomination), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Zoolander, Elf, the Woody Allen feature Melinda and Melinda, Old School, and the screen adaptation of The Producers, which earned Ferrell his first Golden Globe nomination in 2006 for Best Supporting Actor. Due for limited release this week, Ferrell is set to star in the independent feature Everything Must Go, directed by Dan Rush. Based on a Raymond Carver short story, Ferrell portrays an alcoholic who has relapsed and in turn loses his wife and job.

In 2009, Ferrell debuted on Broadway by headlining the sold-out, one-man comedy show You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W Bush. Nominated for a Tony Award® in the “Best Special Event” category and directed by longtime collaborator, Adam McKay, Ferrell perfected his infamous Saturday Night Live character "President George W. Bush." At the end of its Broadway run, Ferrell performed the show in its entirety live on HBO, which received an Emmy nomination.

In 2007, Ferrell and McKay founded the overwhelmingly popular and award-winning video website Funnyordie.com. With hundreds of exclusive celebrity videos and a steady stream of huge viral hits, Funny Or Die has become the “place to be seen” for comedic celebrities, and the obvious destination for a daily comedy fix. The site's first video, “The Landlord,” has received more than 73 million views and features Ferrell confronted by a swearing, beer-drinking two-year-old landlord. The site averages more than 7 million unique viewers and over 24 million video views per month.

Ferrell starred for seven seasons on Saturday Night Live. Some of his most memorable SNL characters include “Craig the Spartan Cheerleader,” musical middle school teacher “Marty Culp”, and “President George W. Bush.” Among his many impressions are Janet Reno, Alex Trebek, Neil Diamond and the late, great Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Caray. His work on SNL earned two Emmy nominations in 2001 (Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program).

Raised in Irvine, California, Ferrell attended USC and graduated with a degree in sports information. Upon graduation, he worked as a sportscaster on a weekly show broadcast over a local cable channel. Soon after, he enrolled in acting classes and stand-up comedy workshops at a nearby community college and was eventually asked to join the esteemed comedy/improv group The Groundlings after just one year of training. It was with The Groundlings that Ferrell was discovered for Saturday Night Live.

The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize focuses on those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences. The proceeds from the evening’s event are used to support the Kennedy Center’s programs, performances and outreach. As recipient of the 2011 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Mr. Ferrell will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853- 1940). The bust and images of it are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford, Connecticut.

As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens—the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist also known as Mark Twain—was a fearless observer of society who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Along with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the creators and executive producers of The Mark Twain Prize are Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz and Cappy McGarr. WETA Washington, D.C. executive producers for Will Ferrell: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson.

The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in October 1998. Recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize have been Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), and Tina Fey (2010).

The Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center is sponsored by American Airlines.





For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of Programming, at (309) 495-0591 or linda.miller@wtvp.org



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