×

President Donald Trump Bows Out of Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have decided to bow out of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, the White House said Saturday.

The decision comes after several of this year’s honorees — including Norman Lear and Lionel Richie — said they would skip the traditional White House reception that coincides with the December event in protest of Trump’s political agenda and his response to the white supremacist violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

“The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

The move is the latest sign of the backlash to Trump from the entertainment industry after his series of conflicting statements about the violence in Charlottesville that left a 32-year-old woman dead. After he insisted that leftist counter-protesters shared blame for the situation in Charlottesville and asserted that some participants in the rally were “fine people,” the condemnation from Hollywood as well as other sectors has been swift.

On Friday, members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse in protest of his statements. So many prominent CEOs fled the White House’s business-related panels during the past week that Trump decided to disband them entirely.

The Kennedy Center Honors, now in its 40th year, are an annual fund-raising event for the non-profit performing arts organization. The prestigious award recognizes notable figures who have made significant contributions to arts. The President and first lady typically attend the glitzy Sunday night ceremony, which is broadcast later on CBS, and they have traditionally hosted a White House reception for the honorees before the event. The President and first lady also usually sit with the honorees at the ceremony itself.

In addition to Lear and Richie, this year’s recipients are Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. De Lavallade told the Washington Post earlier this week that she would not attend the White House reception “in light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in.”

The 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors will be held Dec. 3. CBS will air a two-hour special on Dec. 26.

Trump’s decision to skip the event is only the latest example of how he has bucked traditions. He passed up the White House Correspondents Association dinner in April, making him the first president to miss it since Ronald Reagan in 1981. Even then, Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt, and ended up calling into the dinner by phone.

The Kennedy Center said in a statement that another event that weekend, a dinner at the State Department on the night before the ceremony, will continue as planned.

The prospect of Trump’s participation risked making much of the coverage about the ceremony about the rift between the administration and artists, whether over some of the president’s actions or the administration’s proposal to eliminate federal arts funding.

“The Kennedy Center respects the decision made today by the office of the President of the United States,” the chairman of the Kennedy Center, David Rubenstein, and its president, Deborah Rutter, said in a statement. “In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees. We are grateful for this gesture.”

More Biz

  • UTA

    UTA Launches Sports Division, Invests in Klutch Sports Group

    UTA is diving into the sports arena through an investment in Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron James and other stars. Klutch Sports founder Rich Paul will serve as head of the newly created UTA Sports wing in addition to running his own banner. Paul launched Klutch Sports in 2012 in Cleveland. UTA [...]

  • New York's Brooklyn Bowl Celebrates 10

    New York's Brooklyn Bowl Celebrates 10 Years With Plans to Expand

    In the middle of a conversation about the tenth anniversary of Brooklyn Bowl — the live-music-and-bowling venue that opened a second location in Las Vegas in 2014 — owner Peter Shapiro casually mentions that he’s planning on opening a third location in the U.S. within the next 12 months. He declines to provide any more [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Unites Recorded Music and Publishing Under One Company

    Sony has created Sony Music Group, an umbrella for both its recorded-music operation — Sony Music Entertainment — and its publishing company — Sony/ATV — under SME chief Rob Stringer, according to an internal document obtained by Variety. The move will take effect on Aug. 1. A source close to the situation tells Variety that [...]

  • Ken Ehrlich Jane Ortner Education Award,

    Grammy Awards Producer Shuffle: Ben Winston to Take Over From Ken Ehrlich in 2021

    As Variety reported in December, Ben Winston will take the reins of the Grammy Awards as executive producer in 2021 after longtime telecast leader Ken Ehrlich completes his 40th ceremony next year. Winston has become a prolific producer for CBS and other outlets since he moved to the U.S. nearly five years ago to launch [...]

  • PUBG - Xbox One

    Chinese Streaming Firm DouYu Raises $775 Million on NASDAQ Debut

    Chinese live-streaming firm DouYu has set a price of $11.50 per ADS share for its stockmarket debut on NASDAQ. Company CEO Chen Shaojie was expected to ring the exchange’s opening bell. The share sale will raise a total of $775 million, and provide the company $517 million of fresh capital. At that price DouYu would [...]

  • Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) social critic and

    Paul Krassner Recalls Lenny Bruce, Cavalier Magazine 50 Years Later

    Men’s magazine Cavalier was launched by Fawcett Publications in 1952 (motto: “For the American Male”). It was published the year before Playboy, to which it has often been compared. Imagine that this was a bastion of cutting-edge comic literature. Back in the day, Cavalier tried to be seen as slightly hipper, more youthful and considered [...]

  • LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet

    LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet Dermot McCormack President

    Live entertainment digital media company LiveXLive Media today announced that AOL and MTV veteran Dermot McCormack has been named president of the company. According to the announcement, McCormack will lead the business and creative operations of LiveXLive, effective immediately. McCormack previously served as AOL’s Global President of Video and Studios, where he oversaw the video [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content