Famed TV creator Norman Lear will not be attending the White House reception as part of 40th Kennedy Center Honors award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in December as a form of protest against President Donald Trump.
It was announced Thursday that Lear, who created the 1970s sitcoms “All in the Family”, “The Jeffersons”, and “One Day at a Time”, would be one of the recipients of the prestigious arts award, handed out by the president of the United States.
In the past, artists have gladly accepted the awards no matter who occupied the White House, but under President Trump there are already rumblings about whether certain artists plan to go. A representative for the 95-year-old Lear released a statement to ET Canada explaining that while he has decided to attend the gala event, he will skip the traditional White House reception with the President.
“Mr. Lear is thrilled to receive a Kennedy Center Honor this year,” the statement reads. “Although he has clearly stated he will not be attending the White House reception he looks forward to attending the Awards Gala at the Kennedy Center on December 3rd and ‘wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else that night’.”
“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,” Lear told the New York Times in an interview.
Lear, whose TV work has often focused on political issues, and shining a light on the lives of minorities and working people, has been critical of Trump in the past. In an interview with The Daily Beast last year, he said, “Donald Trump is a thorough fool, having nothing to do with the shrewdness that has allowed him to cheat and steal the way he has for his own good. Underneath that he’s a fool.”
Gloria Estefan, another honouree at the Kennedy Center this year, told the Times she plans to attend the ceremony, and that she is looking forward to talking to Trump in order to express her views.
“Mr. President, as a proud immigrant of this country, it’s very important for me that you see the wonderful contributions we have made,” Estefan plans to say. “We have seen a lot of anti-immigrant backlash this year, so for us, it may hold even more beauty than for someone who has lived here all their lives. To get this kind of award is so American.”
Meanwhile, LL Cool J, the first rapper to be receiving the award, doesn’t plan to make any kind of political statement. “I don’t have any stunts planned. I’m not saying I need to be there backslapping and all of that, but this time, this one ain’t about him,” he told the Times. “I’m not going to block my blessings or let the political divide stop me from embracing my art. I’m banking on the goodness and the optimism of people to say: ‘You know what? I get it. Let this guy have this honour.'”
The Kennedy Center Honors Gala will air on Dec. 26.