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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Political chatter was kept to a minimum Sunday night as the Kennedy Center Honors presented elaborate tributes to “Sesame Street” — made more poignant by the death of legendary puppeteer Caroll Spinney earlier in the day — as well as Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, Earth, Wind and Fire and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
The gala, in its 42nd year, once again capped a weekend of festivities that included a banquet on Saturday night at the U.S. State Department. Excluded for the third straight year was any participation by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, either as hosts of a traditional Sunday afternoon reception at the White House or attendees at the gala. It’s a workable arrangement for all given the president’s unpopularity within the arts and entertainment communities.
Year - Producers - Honors - White - Cherry
In their fifth year as producers of the Honors, White Cherry Entertainment’s Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss delivered a stellar program packed with memorable moments and talented artists. Highlights from the gala will air Dec. 15 on CBS, about two weeks earlier than the show has typically aired in recent years.
The evening was generally devoid of overt political sentiment, save for the rousing and sustained ovation given to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was among attending D.C. dignitaries introduced by KenCen Chairman David Rubenstein. The program’s emcee, 2018 honoree LL CoolJ, occasionally tiptoed into political waters with sentiments imploring a politically divided Americans to “stick together,” and extolling the power of the arts to help the country do so.
Moment - Sesame - Street - Big - Bird
Another lively moment came when “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird appeared, wandering the aisle in obvious confusion following intermission, and trying to sit in the lap of actor Tom Hanks whom he addressed as “Thanks.” It was a reference to sounds and letters, a “Sesame Street” hallmark.
Honorees again watched the proceedings from...
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