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Groundbreaking TV producer Norman Lear tells USA TODAY that he feels great about receiving Kennedy Center accolade and explains why he’s happy President Trump won’t be involved
USA TODAY

Ask comedy auteur Norman Lear his response to being selected for the Kennedy Center Honors, a career celebration of esteemed artists, and the 95-year-old TV legend, not surprisingly, takes the mordant route.

“It feels elderly,” he says, chuckling. Then, he switches gears: “It feels great. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Lear, famed for such groundbreaking 1970s comedies as All in the Family, Maude and The Jeffersons, will be honored Sunday with actress, dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan; hip hop artist LL Cool J; and musician and record producer Lionel Richie.

The 40th annual honors ceremony, held at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C., will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 26 (9 ET/PT).

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TV legend Norman Lear has a new gig at age 94–hosting the “All of the Above,” podcast. He tells about it on #TalkingTech.

The honorees may have a little more time on their hands this weekend thanks to Lear and de Lavallade, who said they would boycott the traditional White House reception because of their opposition to President Trump. The White House later canceled the reception and issued a statement saying, the president and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the ceremony “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”

Lear, a longtime progressive who is at odds with the president’s policies in many areas, including support of the arts, explains his decision to boycott.

“Because he’s made me feel it’s not my White House,” he tells USA TODAY. “But I’ve gotten over that. It is my White House. It oughtn’t to be his.”

Asked what he thinks of Trump’s decision not to have the traditional reception, Lear says confidently: “You mean the decision that supported me?”

Lear can’t imagine some of his classic shows, such as All in the Family and Sanford and Son, being remade in his lifetime. He credits talented actors such as Carroll O’Connor, who played Family‘s Archie Bunker, and Redd Foxx, Fred Sanford in Sanford.

“I wouldn’t know…