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Norman Lear: It Was ‘a Very Simple Decision’ to Skip Kennedy Center Honors White House Reception

“I think of it as a very simple decision,” Norman Lear said on Monday when asked by reporters why he decided to skip a reception at the White House ahead of the Kennedy Center Honors.

“The Kennedy Center is about the arts and humanities. I’m somebody who believes when the world is safe for everybody, the arts have played a large part in that. A presidency that turns its back on the arts and refuses to fund the arts and humanities, I can’t imagine wishing to go there,” Lear said, speaking on a panel for his Netflix series “One Day at a Time” at the Television Critics Association press tour, held on the Sony lot in Los Angeles.

“It’s almost not political,” Lear continued, emphasizing his decision was solely about his passion and dedication to the arts. “I understand everything else going on, and you can imagine how I feel…but it’s the turning of the presidency’s back on the arts and humanities that I can’t honor with a visit.”

Throughout the presidential election, Lear had opposed Trump. Traditionally, honorees of the Kennedy Center Honors visit the White House for a pre-ceremony reception each year in December. This year’s event, of course, will be hosted by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

On the panel, “One Day at a Time” star Rita Moreno — a former Kennedy Center Honor recipient — joked that she didn’t have to make the tough decision to visit Trump’s White House.

The executive producers and cast were also asked how Trump may impact Season 2 of the Netflix series.

“We’re going to deal with it in that way — how it would affect this family,” executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett said. “There’s an overall feeling and demeanor and change that this family feels and it will definitely relate to all of our characters.”

Asked by a reporter if there will be an immigration story, in light of the Trump administration, Calderon Kellett teased, “Maybe.”

Speaking to the diversity of the show — which is a take on the original “One Day at a Time,” but with a Latino family — Moreno said, “Our writers room is the United Nations of everything,” she said, mentioning women and LGBT writers. “You name it, we got it.”

A few days earlier, Lear spoke with Variety in a phone interview and discussed his decision to skip the reception at Trump’s White House. He said, “I think the arts are important for our humanity, and that includes this administration.”

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