Washington elite fetes Hollywood stars

Sun Dec 2, 2007 11:23pm EST
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By Deborah Charles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington's elite swayed to Motown and The Beach Boys as Hollywood descended on the capital on Sunday to pay tribute to five superstars who earned Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contributions to the arts.

President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, attended the gala performance to honor singer Diana Ross, comic-actor Steve Martin, film director Martin Scorsese, Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and pianist Leon Fleisher.

The award winners, seated in the presidential box on the balcony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, clapped, beamed and laughed as fellow actors and musicians played tribute to them.

Ross, the lead singer in the seminal 1960s trio "The Supremes," lifted her hands above her head and swayed with the crowd as gospel singer Yolanda Adams brought down the house with her rendition of "Reach Out and Touch."

Dressed in a white evening gown, Ross blew kisses and fingered the multicolored decoration hanging around her neck as she listened to Vanessa Williams, "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks and Ciara belt out songs that made Ross famous.

Martin, a comedian who began his career doing magic tricks and playing the banjo, was his typical light-hearted self in the balcony -- playing along with jokes from actor and comedian Steve Carell and laughing at his trademark "Excuse me!" and "I'm a wild and crazy guy" lines.

"His act was that of an idiot savant, minus the savant," said Carell to laughter as he paid tribute to Martin. "He's a national treasure in the loosest sense of the term."

'MADE DREAMS COME TRUE'   Continued...

<p>Singer Diana Ross (3rd R) arrives on the red carpet with members of her family for the Kennedy Center Honors show in Washington December 2, 2007. The 2007 honorees are pianist Leon Fleisher, actor Steve Martin, Ross, film director Martin Scorsese and musician Brian Wilson. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</p>