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Report: Norman Lear to Skip White House Kennedy Center Reception to Spite Trump

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Television legend Norman Lear is reportedly declining to attend the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors at the White House, at which he is expected to be awarded for his work, in a show of protest against President Donald Trump.

According to the a New York Times report, the veteran TV writer behind television classics like All in the Family and The Jeffersons will not attend the annual pre-ceremony gala scheduled for December 3, where he is expected to be honored for his lifetime contributions to American culture.

Lear cited the president’s proposed cuts to the National Endowment of the Arts as one reason why he may miss the event.

“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 said.

Executive producer and creator Norman Lear seen at “The Power of TV: A Conversation with Norman Lear and Netflix original series ‘One Day at a Time’ ” ATAS Panel at the Wolf Theater at Saban Media Center on Monday, June 19, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Blair Raughley/Invision for Netflix/AP Images)

Justina Machado and Executive Producer Norman Lear seen at Netflix “One Day at a Time” S1 Premiere After Party at The London West Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Steve Cohn/Invision for Netflix/AP Images)

Lear later told Variety however, that if the president’s policies change, he may in fact attend the glitzy reception.

“Maybe that will cause me to change my mind,” Lear said.

To be sure, Lear has been an outspoken critic of President Trump.

In a January 2016 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Lear cast doubts that Trump would win the election.

“I have enough confidence in the American people to believe that Trump is the middle finger of their right hand,” Lear told the outlet. “He is [the right’s] f— you to all the clowns and the establishment generally because [they believe] the leadership of the country is at an all-time low.”

Last September, Lear compared the then-GOP candidate to fictional All in the Family character Archie Bunker.

“Archie Bunker was far wiser of heart” than Mr. Trump, Lear told The Daily Beast. “Sure, the thoughts he held were antediluvian. But Donald Trump is a thorough fool.”

The 85-year-old producer isn’t the only star using the White House gala for political protest.

Singer Gloria Estefan is set to be honored at the White House reception and told the Times she will use the event to lobby President Trump on immigration.

“Mr. President, as a proud immigrant of this country, it’s very important for me that you see the wonderful contributions we have made,” the seven-time Grammy-winner says she intends to tell the president, adding that the gala will be the “perfect opportunity to make clear and express” her political views.

Rapper-actor LL Cool J, singer Lionel Richie, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade will also be honored, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Thursday.

LL Cool J, however, told the Times that he doesn’t plan on making any political stunts.

“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,” the rapper-actor said of President Trump. “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 honor.'”

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are expected to attend the event, which will be broadcast on December 26 on CBS.


Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson


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