Bush, Babs to Find Common Ground in Kennedy

** FILE ** In this Sept. 20, 2006 file photo, Barbra Streisand sits in the audience at the 2nd annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Streisand has provided $5 million to endow a research and education program on women's heart disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The hospital on Wednesday, April 16, 2008, announced the new Barbara Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research Education Program. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)
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Barbra Streisand can start watching the mailbox for her invitation to the White House, even if it comes a little earlier than she might've hoped.

The singer, actress and avowed Democrat is being honored by the Kennedy Center in December, a distinction that includes a reception at the White House - the last to be hosted by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush.

And if that weren't enough cause for awkwardness, their potential meeting comes less than two months after Streisand's stepson, Josh Brolin, hits theaters playing Bush in the Oliver Stone-directed biopic "W."

Other honorees announced Tuesday include Morgan Freeman, country singer George Jones, choreographer Twyla Tharp and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who. The awards are presented the night before at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Performers from New York, Hollywood and Nashville will salute the honorees at the gala on Dec. 7 - after the presidential election, but before the next president is inaugurated.

Streisand, a vocal opponent of Bush, is supporting Barack Obama after earlier endorsing Hillary Clinton. Most recently, she slammed Republican presidential nominee John McCain for picking Sarah Palin as his running mate.

"This calculated, cynical ploy to pull away a small percentage of Hillary's women voters from Barack Obama will not work," Streisand wrote on her Web page. "We are not that stupid!"

Perhaps in spite of those strong feelings, she said in a statement that she was "humbled and thrilled" to join the recipients of the 31st annual Kennedy Center Honors. Emails and telephone messages left for Streisand's representative were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Not all the honorees are hoping their lame-duck host will be preparing to hand the keys to the White House over to a Democrat: Jones said he usually leans toward supporting Democrats, but is backing McCain this year because of his experience.

"I think he knows everything that needs to be known to lead this country and get it back right," Jones said.

Jones, a Texas native who now calls Nashville home, said in an interview that he always thought of himself as an "old country boy singing beer-drinking songs. I never dreamed I'd ever be this big in the business." He turns 77 Friday.

Freeman, 71, currently starring in "The Dark Knight," made headlines after suffering broken bones in a Mississippi car crash last month. He won an Oscar for his role in "Million Dollar Baby" and his other screen credits include "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Bucket List."

Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen Schwarzman hailed the "extraordinary genius and tenacity" of the 2008 lifetime achievement award recipients. Their work, Schwarzman said, has "redefined the way we see, hear and feel the performing arts."

Schwarzman said Tharp, 67, is an "American original, whose work has indelibly enriched the vocabulary of modern dance, contemporary ballet and the Broadway musical." He said Townshend, 63, and Daltrey, 64, as singers and songwriters for the band The Who, "transformed the sights and sounds of rock and roll."

Past honorees, including Clint Eastwood, Elton John and Sidney Poitier, made nominations for the awards, along with members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee, including Glenn Close and Reba McEntire.

Tickets to the gala sell for as much as $4,000. Last year the event raised $5 million to support Kennedy Center programs.


On the Net:

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: http://www.kennedy-center.org

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