Meet the 5 New Kennedy Center Honorees
Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma among this year's recipients
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2011 7:27 AM CST
President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama, seen standing in the audience at right, applaud the recipients of the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – It was glitz DC-style at the Kennedy Center last night, which saw five artists honored during this year's gala: Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, Sonny Rollins, and Barbara Cook. The Washington Post reports that the red carpet was a jumble of politicians (Newt Gingrich and wife Callista) and celebrities (Streep wore Elie Saab). This year's recipients sat with the first couple in the balcony (orchestra seats went for $5,500 a pop). Quips abounded, with director Mike Nichols saying Streep "could handle any part thrown at her, except maybe Gidget." After a video montage of her career was screened, Robert De Niro observed, "Looking at those great moments over the years, I realize ... I was amazing in Deer Hunter."

Back at the White House, Obama offered more praise, saying the five "have been blessings to all of us." His take on the honorees: Tony Award-winning Cook has been an inspiration for singers that followed, he noted. Diamond has written songs you can sing “no matter how much you've had to drink,” while “saxophone colossus” Rollins can tear through an hour-long solo without repeating himself, Obama said, according to USA Today. Meryl Streep has garnered more Oscar nods than any other actress. Cellist Ma is “a regular here at the White House,” the president observed. “I was telling him we need to give him a room.” On top of that, “everybody likes him," Obama added. "You've got to give me some tips."
 

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