President Obama and Mrs. Obama Sunday hosted the Kennedy Center Awards in Washington, an event where people who have already received too much money and praise for their work get even more of the latter.
The honorees this year were television host Oprah Winfrey, musicians Paul McCartney and Merle Haggard, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones and lyricist Jerry Herman. Colin Powell, who lately seems to be joined at the hip to Obama, was also in attendance for some reason. He’s been helping Obama tout the START Treaty and generally hanging out at the White House.
McCartney, you’ll remember, gratuitously dissed George W. Bush when he received some other award at the White House last spring. It’s nice to see one of the former kings of the counterculture getting knighted and receiving all sort of bullshit status-symbol awards.
The Washington Post has a selection of photos from the event. If you want to see how everyone’s facelifts are holding up, you can check it out here.
Below is an appropriately ironic pool report of the event by Charles Hunt of the New York Post.
This whole thing will be televised on CBS on December 28th between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
All very typical Hollywood self absorption where everybody talks longer than they are supposed to.
Here are some very basic highlights, as seen on the monitor in the Israeli Lounge of the Kennedy Center just outside the Presidential Box.
Oprah was feted first with lots of nice tributes.
Most unscripted came from Chris Rock, who sauntered up and down the stage just generally being funny.
Talking about the power of Oprah, who was still seated in box with POTUS, Rock said: “HE didn’t get HER a job. SHE got HIM a job!”
Oprah is so powerful and influential, Rock said, she almost got Sarah Palin to read a book. Camera DID NOT SHOW if POTUS thought that was as funny as everybody else did. But it did show Gen. Colin Powell — seated beside POTUS — and he was sort of laughing but clearly uncomfortably.
Rock then told the audience that Oprah has made some money.
She is so rich, Rock said, “If Oprah and Paul McCartney had sex, the S.E.C. would have to approve it.”
Oprah and McCartney were seated next to one another in the President’s box and laughed and clasped hands at that.
Bill T. Jones was applauded next. There was a lot of dancing.
Then came Jerry Herman, who was lauded by Angela Lansbury, among others.
The highlight was probably when the curtains rose to Carol Channing — the original and never-rivaled Dolly Gallagher — at a youthful 89 years old belting out a variation on Herman’s famous song, “Hello, Jerry!”
We are in intermission. Sir Paul and Merle Haggard up next.
Vince Gill opened the salute to Merle Haggard.
Highlight was duet of Haggard’s hit, “Today I Started Loving You Again,” played and sung by Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson, who looked great after losing six ounces last week.
He was a bit spacey, but brilliant as ever.
Finally, paying tribute to Sir Paul, Alex Baldwin gave a very funny VH-1 spoof of the “long and winding road” through years of anonymity McCartney suffered with the Beatles enduring those loud throngs of female fans to give grueling concerts at unmanageably huge stadiums.
Hottest moment was Gwen Stefani with a platinum beehive singing “Hello, Goodbye,” “All My Lovin’,” and “Penny Lane.”