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    Oprah, McCartney Snag Kennedy Center Honors

    Oprah Winfrey, Sir Paul McCartney Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com; Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

    Given Paul McCartney's lack of enthusiasm for former President George W. Bush, it's probably best the Kennedy Center folks waited to pay tribute to the Beatle with Barack Obama in office.

    The "Yesterday" crooner will join the president's biggest celebrity supporter, Oprah Winfrey, country legend Merle Haggard, composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, and director and choreographer Bill T. Jones as this year's recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, presented to performing artists for their lifetime contributions to American culture.

    Before they're saluted in an annual TV special, the honorees will attend a ceremony at the White House where Obama, as First Fan, will bestow them with a ribbon honoring the unique role they've played in the arts.

    For McCartney, that includes his tenure with the Fab Four and his work as a successful solo artist since the Beatles' break up in 1970. The ex-moptop was originally tapped to receive the honor back in 2002 but had to postpone because of his cousin's wedding and was replaced by Paul Simon.

    Winfrey, of course, is being honored for her decades in entertainment, not only as an actress and talk show queen but also as an überproducer whose ever-burgeoning media empire (she launches her own network, OWN, next year) has made her a billionaire and one of the most influential women and African-Americans in the world.

    Haggard is the iconic country singer-songwriter whose outlaw image and poetic lyrics in such hits as "Carolyn" and "If We Make It Through December" helped give voice to the plights of the working class and made him a hero to future generations of country and rock stars.

    Herman has won Tony Awards for penning the scores and lyrics to such classic musicals as Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, while Jones has been a visionary in the dance and theater world, most recently having cocreated, directed and choreographed the Broadway hit Fela.

    Past recipients of the Kennedy kudos include Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Bill Cosby, Elizabeth Taylor, Steven Spielberg and Dolly Parton.

    The 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS Dec. 28.

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    Celebrities and Washington love to mingle in our Hollywood Gets Political gallery!


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