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Is Oprah as big as the Beatles? The Kennedy Center seems to think so. They’ve just announced their awards for this December, and the two big names are Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah, of course, gets this as part of her year long winner’s lap. Her show ends its run in May.

McCartney’s award is a long time coming. None of the Beatles are in the Kennedy Center. Obviously, John Lennon and George Harrison, sadly cannot be inducted. McCartney’s award represents his work and the work of the group, frankly. And this is his year for big honors. He was at the White House last spring to pick up the Gershwin Prize.

The other awardees this year are country legend Merle Haggard, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and, at long last, “Hello Dolly!” Broadway composer Jerry Herman.

Ironically, it was Herman’s hit song, “Hello Dolly!”–as recorded by Louis Armstrong–that fought the Beatles for the number 1 spot on the charts in 1964.  It would be very funny if producer George Stevens, Jr. got McCartney to sing “Hello Dolly!” at the show.

The Kennedy Center opted for no Hollywood names this year. Among some that were bandied about were Meryl Streep and George Lucas. Michael Douglas might have been a cool choice considering his illness, and that he’s having a banner year with “Wall Street 2” and “Solitary Man.”

In music, some fans were hopeful of an award for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the legendary songwriting team. This is their 60 th anniversary. But there’s always next year.

11 replies to this post
  1. When the Beatles came in to the National Spotlight, specifically their 1st Ed Sullivan appearance,America was only 11-12 weeks from burying Our President. There was nothing to be happy about, or look forward to.THEN On Feb.9, 1964, Four very, young,Talented and sure of their abilities, took America by storm. They were the 1st,and in 46 yrs. no one has come close!

  2. The criteria Simba quoted doesn’t say the contribution had to come FROM America, just that it had to contribute TO America. The Beatles definitely contributed to American culture; American music changed drastically after the Beatles broke out.

  3. I am confused.
    Does the recipient have to be American? If he is accepting for the Beatles then why isn’t Ringo Starr on the list? If it is the Beatles work then why not posthum for John and George. If it is for McCartney’s work as a solo artist then hmmmmmm. Paul McCartney’s sense of his own importance is as great as his own importance.
    This bothers me more than Oprah.
    Can’t explain it.

  4. The award is for “lifetime contributions to American culture.” Nowhere does it say you have to be an American, and you can’t deny McCartney’s contribution to our culture. So the award is appropriate, plus he’s not the first non-American to receive the honor.

  5. The award acknowledges the contribution to American culture, it doesn’t say the artists has to be U.S. born. The Beatles through the performance of their music made a huge contribution to American culture.

  6. The Kennedy Center did award McCartney a few years back, but he had to turn it down as the awards night was the same day as his daughter’s wedding.

  7. Look around the Russian music sites. You’ll find Paul McCartney singing “Hello Dolly” during a break during the “Let it Be” sessions.

  8. The Kennedy Center honors are for “Lifetime Contributions to American Culture through the Performing Arts”. Paul McCartney’s not American, and he doesn’t make his home here. So why is he being honored?

  9. I don’t get the award for Oprah. I know she’s done some acting, but she’s a very successful talk show host, she is not an artist. The Kennedy honors are supposed to honor the best artists in their fields. She’s made the most money, not the same thing.

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