Two people never made the event at the Kennedy Center Honors, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania. The first family said they hoped their absence would “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
That announcement came shortly after two of the five honorees, dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and TV producer Norman Lear, said they planned to skip the ceremony altogether if Trump was involved, in protest over his administration’s proposal to cut funding for the arts.
“No distractions! This is about the arts,” rapper-actor LL Cool J said, according to The Washington Post. “It doesn’t help for me to get up on a soapbox and be divisive.”
“It’s about the art tonight — it’s about Lionel and Gloria. It’s about Carmen and Norman,” he added of his fellow honorees, Lear, de Lavallade, and musicians Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan.
Lear, the 95-year-old writer and producer known for creating the bigoted Archie Bunker for 1970s sitcom All in the Family, has been an outspoken critic of Trump, previously telling The Daily Beast that “Archie Bunker was far wiser of heart” than the president and that “Donald Trump is a thorough fool.”