Oprah, Paul McCartney honored at Kennedy Center gala

Mon Dec 6, 2010 12:00am EST
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By Jeff Mason and Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and stars from the stage and screen honored talk show host Oprah Winfrey, singer Paul McCartney and other artists on Sunday for lifetimes of work in music, theater and television.

Country singer and songwriter Merle Haggard, Broadway composer Jerry Herman, and dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones filled out the list of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors, an annual celebration of the arts in Washington.

"Although the honorees on this stage each possess a staggering amount of talent, the truth is, they aren't being recognized tonight simply because of their careers as great lyricists or songwriters or dancers or entertainers," Obama said at White House reception before the ceremony.

"Instead, they're being honored for their unique ability to bring us closer together and to capture something larger about who we are -- not just as Americans, but as human beings."

Hollywood stars and other performers feted the five honorees, throwing in some humor along with words of praise.

"No one deserves this award more than Oprah Winfrey, but no one needs it less," comedian Chris Rock said to laughter from the audience.

He also poked fun at Winfrey's role in campaigning for Obama when he was a presidential candidate.

"He didn't get her a job, she got him a job," he said.   Continued...