Joe Biden Helps Kennedy Center Honors Return To Tradition During A Weekend Of Politicos, Performers And Proof Of Vaccination

Joe Biden Helps Kennedy Center Honors Return To Tradition With A. D.C. Weekend Of Politicos, Performers And Proof Of Vaccination

12/6/2021 10:45:00 AM

Joe Biden Helps Kennedy Center Honors Return To Tradition With A. D.C. Weekend Of Politicos, Performers And Proof Of Vaccination

David Letterman opened Sunday night’s Kennedy Center Honors by telling the audience in the Opera House, “Tonight, it is quite nice, very nice, to see the presidential box once again bei…

The crowd cheered and then gave Presidenta standing ovation, after which Letterman quipped, “The same with the Oval Office.”2021 Kennedy Center honorees, from left, Justino Díaz,, Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, and Berry Gordy pose following the Medallion Ceremony for the 44th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Saturday.

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(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)The ceremony marked a return to a large-scale, lavish gala of tradition, as Covid-19 forced last year’s ceremony to be postponed and later scaled back. But it also was the return of the presidential seal of approval, after four years in which President Donald Trump did not attend or host a pre-ceremony reception at the White House.

Instead, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted honorees Justino Diaz, Berry Gordy, Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler and Lorne Michaels for an event in the East Room before the ceremony. The president gave Michaels, the creator of Saturday Night Live, a little ribbing, “He’s trying out seven guys to play me.”

Related StoryWhite House Correspondents' Association Plans Return Of Annual Dinner In 2022He added, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, we’re in real trouble. And you make me laugh at myself a lot.”Then Biden introduced Steve Martin, sitting in the crowd, who quipped, “Do you want me to play you?”

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“Steve, I’m afraid that you understands me too well,” Biden said.The ceremony itself, to be broadcast later this month on CBS, again featured moving tributes to the honorees from friends and admirers, but also one of the plum see-and-be-seen A-list social events of the year for D.C. Things weren’t entirely normal, as most attendees were vigilant about wearing a mask and other requirements.

David Rubenstein, the chairman of the Kennedy Center, drew cheers when he said on stage to the audience, “How does it feel to be in a room where everyone is vaccinated and tested?”Sitting near the Bidens were Vice President Kamala Harris and First Gentleman Doug Emhoff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chief Justice John Roberts and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Shari Redstone was spotted during the National Anthem between Emhoff and Pelosi, and nearby were other figures like Bob Bakish and Steve Schwartzman. Joe Manchin, who was a visible presence in the scaled back Kennedy Center Honors last spring, made a return visit, along with a slew of other Democrats. There was a sprinkling of Republicans — including Newt and Callista Gingrich, former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) — but Letterman perhaps said it best when he told the crowd, “This night is about the honorees whose unique gifts cross all boundaries and represent all parties from the left to the far left.”

President Joe Biden looks at actor Steve Martin, standing right, a he speaks during the Kennedy Center Honorees Reception at the White House.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)The ceremony has shades of the Grammys, the Tonys, the Oscars, The Emmys andThis Is Your Life

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.Chita Rivera honored Diaz and noted that the opera legend has “a secret fondness for singing disco.” Grace Brumbry said that Diaz “was that rare combination of an opera singer who is also an extraordinary actor.”For the tribute to Mitchell, Norah Jones performed

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