WASHINGTON — Meryl Streep may have her next film assignment and Neil Diamond thanked the namesake of his famous tune “Sweet Caroline,” as they joined other luminaries from Broadway, jazz and classical music to receive the Kennedy Center Honors during a weekend of events.

Broadway singer Barbara Cook, famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins were among several Sunday to receive the nation’s top award for those who have influenced American culture through the arts.

Caroline Kennedy, who hosts the show as part of a living memorial to her assassinated father, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, acknowledged her personal connection to one honoree.

In a nod to Diamond, she said he was “a Brooklyn lad with a gift of melody who grew into a solitary man, ‘reaching out, touching me.’” That was enough to draw laughs from the crowd of celebrities and politicians recalling that Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” was named for her.

“I’m going to have to thank her for that,” Diamond said before the show.

He noted that the song is about him and his ex-wife. But he took the name from Kennedy.

Smokey Robinson sang “Sweet Caroline” with help from Kennedy and fans brought in from Boston’s Fenway Park, where it’s a favorite anthem.

Earlier, President Obama lauded the actors and musicians at the White House.

“They belong here together because each of tonight’s honorees has felt the need to express themselves and share that expression with the world,” Obama said.

He said everyone has that wish for self-expression in common.

“That’s why we dance, even if, as Michelle says, I look silly doing it,” he said to laughter.

Classical music stole the show’s finale with surprise tributes from Stephen Colbert and Elmo from TV’s “Sesame Street.”

“Tonight we celebrate the greatest living cellist,” Colbert said. “We chell-ebrate, if you will.”

Ma has played cello since he was 4. At age 7, he played for Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower.

Now, at 56, he is hailed as a musical ambassador to the world who has spanned styles from bluegrass to sounds from the Silk Road with an ensemble he founded.

Elmo, dressed in a tux, said he came to honor his friend, Ma, who taught him that “music is like a playground” that makes everyone happy.

And earlier, Obama jokingly looked to Ma for some advice.

“Everybody likes him,” Obama said. “You’ve got to give me some tips. I thought about asking him to go talk to Congress.”

CBS will air the show Dec. 27.

Madonna to perform at Super Bowl

NEW YORK – Madonna will perform at halftime of the Super Bowl in February.

NBC, which broadcasts football’s biggest game, announced Sunday night that the Grammy Award-winning singer will take the stage in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

The Super Bowl halftime show is the year’s most-watched musical event. More than 162 million in the U.S. watched The Black Eyed Peas’ performance last February.

Madonna, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, joins such acts as Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Prince, U2, Paul McCartney, The Who and the Rolling Stones to perform during recent Super Bowls.

She’ll collaborate with a team from Cirque du Soleil, choreographer Jamie King and artists from Moment Factory.

— From news service reports