Norman Lear to Boycott Reception With the 'Archie Bunker' President
"If anything can bring us hope and encouragement in these difficult times, it has to be the arts and humanities."
The artists that will be celebrated at this year's Kennedy Center Honors were just announced. But one of them—legendary television producer Norman Lear—has said he'll be boycotting the pre-gala White House reception in protest of President Donald Trump.
The New York Times described his boycotting of the reception as "a rare move in the Honors' 39-year history." Yet it is perhaps not at all surprising, given that the 95-year-old has said of Trump: "He IS Archie Bunker. I think of Donald Trump as the middle finger of the American right hand."
The Dec. 3 ceremony takes place at the Kennedy Center Opera House, but the ceremony is always preceded by a White House reception where the president hosts the honorees.
Lear cited Trump's proposal to slash arts funding as being behind his snubbing of the reception.
"I can't see myself visiting a White House, what [Trump] called a dump, that dumps on the National Endowment for the Arts," the progressive activist and "All In the Family" creator said to the Washington Post.
"This is a presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities—deliberately defund them—and that doesn't rest pleasantly with me," he said to the Times.
"I couldn't be more excited to be among this year's Kennedy Center honorees. If anything can bring us hope and encouragement in these difficult times, it has to be the arts and humanities," he wrote.
The other artists receiving the Kennedy Center honors this year are dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade; singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan; hip hop artist and entertainment icon LL Cool J; and musician and record producer Lionel Richie.
Estefan's recognition marks just the fourth time the honors go to a latina, while LL Cool J will be the first hip hop artist to receive the award. Estefan, for her part, addressed the current anti-immigrant White House, telling the Times that she plans on using the gathering with the president to stress to him the contributions of immigrants to the country.
"Each of this year's Honorees became known to and loved by the world because of their complete originality and bold genius," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. "They are creators of the highest order, and as President Kennedy's living memorial, the Kennedy Center is proud to shine a light on their boundless 'contributions to the human spirit.'"
The awards will be broadcast on CBS on Tuesday, December 26 at 9pm ET.