President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama entertained a massive crowd in the White House’s East Room last night for a reception before the Kennedy Center Honors. This year’s honorees included filmmaker Mel Brooks, actor Robert de Niro, music artist Bruce Springsteen, opera singer Grace Bumbry and jazz pianist Dave Brubek.
"These performers are indeed the best," said the president. " They are also living reminders of a simple truth — and I’m going to steal a line from Michelle here — the arts are not somehow apart from our national life, the arts are at the heart of our national life."
President Obama also took advantage of the moment to highlight what his administration has done for the arts as a whole, saying, "That’s why we’re helping to sustain jobs in arts communities across the country. It’s why we’re supporting arts education in our schools, and why Michelle and I have hosted students here at the White House to experience the best of American poetry and music."
Besides the first family and the honorees, the House was packed with celebs. Ben Stiller, who starred with Robert in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, was there to offer support, as were Sharon Stone, Aretha Franklin (who presented for Grace), Herbie Hancock and Melissa Ethridge.
— Whitney Teal