Kennedy Center Honors celebrates Streep, Diamond

Mon Dec 5, 2011 1:50am EST
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By Jeff Mason and Tim Ryan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama revealed a secret crush and Caroline Kennedy crooned to her namesake song on Sunday at the Kennedy Center Honors, which celebrated actress Meryl Streep and singer Neil Diamond.

The annual awards program, which also honored singer Barbara Cook, jazz great Sonny Rollins, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, brought together stars from the stage and screen in a celebration of music, movies, and Broadway shows.

"Right now, somewhere in America, there is a future Kennedy Center honoree - practicing on some phone books, or writing songs to impress a girl, or wondering if she can cut it on the big stage," Obama said at the White House, greeting the winners before the show and noting the importance of the arts.

It turns out the president once fell for Streep, the actress who has been nominated for 16 Academy Awards and won two.

"Anybody who saw 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' had a crush on her," Obama said, joking that he was straying from his prepared remarks.

Of Diamond, Obama said his songs could be heard everywhere from baseball games to children's movies.

"With a voice he describes as being full of gravel, potholes, left turns and right turns, he went on to sell more than 125 million records," Obama said.

The "Sweet Caroline" singer told reporters he would thank Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, for being the namesake of that signature song.   Continued...