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Oprah Winfrey, Bill T. Jones Recognized at White House as 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees

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The 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees include some of the most influential people yet.

Emmy Award-winning talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Tony Award-winning choreographer and 'Fela!' director Bill T. Jones, The Beatles' Paul McCartney, singer and songwriter Merle Haggard and Tony Award-winning Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman (of 'Hello Dolly!' and 'La Cage aux Folles' fame) were presented with their Kennedy Center Honors medallions on Dec.4 at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

The following day, President Obama and the First Lady hosted the five honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center Honors gala.

President Obama made remarks about each of the talented honorees, but couldn't help gushing about his dear friend, Winfrey.

"Michelle and I love Oprah Winfrey and the more you know Oprah, the more spectacular you realize her character and her soul are, and the more you appreciate what a wonderful, gifted person she is," he said. "While she was working as a reporter in Baltimore, Oprah was told she was 'too engaged' and 'too emotional' about her stories, so the station put her on a talk show to run out her contract. That worked well. How's payback?"

He continued, "The reason we share ourselves with Oprah is because she shares herself with us. She has taught us to find strength in overcoming...and she has shown millions of people around the world – people she probably will never meet – what it means to believe in 'the dream of your own life."

President Obama also had high praise for 'Fela!' director/choreographer, Jones.

"As the co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Bill hs earned widespread acclaim and artistic success in the hyper competitive world of modern dance – all while battling poverty, homophobia and racism," he said. "And through it all, Bill has never compromised his sense of purpose, or lost his ability to inspire others to greater heights."

Secretary of State Clinton traveled back from across the globe to offer remarks to the Honorees.

"We are privileged to honor five remarkable people who move us, inspire us, and remind us of what the human spirit is capable of," shes said.

Although it has not been formally revealed what celebrities will recognize which Honoree, Julia Roberts, John Travolta, Kid Rock, Barbara Walters, Jennifer Hudson, Sheryl Crow, Alec Baldwin, and Steven Tyler were among the celebrities in attendance at the Kennedy Center Honors festivities.

The 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors gala will air on CBS at 9 pm EST on Dec.28.







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