Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney Selected for 2010 Kennedy Center Honors

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The Kennedy Center announced that Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, songwriter Merle Haggard, dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones and composer-lyricist Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!) have been selected as the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors class. The Honors is a tribute to "artists who have made lifetime contributions to dance, opera, film, television, music and theater."

Winfrey is one of the few honorees in the history of the tributes who is not primarily known as a performer:

The selection of Winfrey may be startling, but it's not without precedent. The choice harks back to 1993 when late-night television host Johnny Carson was selected, breaking the long line of honorees who were strictly traditional performing artists. Winfrey, taking a break from taping for her 25th season and reviewing the nearly 5,000 hours of footage, let out with a buoyant "Wow-zee!"

She explained, "This feels like an official American citizenship in a very exclusive club of artists and contributors to the nation in a very special way. It feels like an elevated kind of award and there aren't many in this category. They look at your work, your life work, who you are as a human being and the spirit of who you are as a human being. Not many honors look at that depth."


The selection of Winfrey is certainly timely; the upcoming season will be the last of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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