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Tony Kushner. (American Press Archives)

Tony Kushner. (American Press Archives)

President to honor former Lake Charles resident

Last Modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 10:38 AM

By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Three Louisianians, including playwright Tony Kushner, are in a group that includes movie producer George Lucas, Broadway writer-director and star Elaine May and soprano Renée Fleming who will receive the National Medal of the Arts at the White House today.

President Barack Obama will present the medals. First lady Michelle Obama will be at the ceremony, according to a National Endowment for the Arts news release.

It will be a reprise for Kushner at the Obama White House. He was a guest at the executive mansion, along with director Stephen Spielberg and members of the cast, for a screening of the movie “Lincoln,” for which Kushner wrote the screenplay.

Kushner, whose play “Angels in America” won the Pulitzer Prize, is a native of New York, but grew up in Lake Charles and graduated from Lake Charles High School.

His citation will read: “Tony Kushner for his contributions to American theater and film. Whether for the stage or the silver screen, his scripts have moved audiences worldwide, marrying humor to fury, history to fantasy, and the philosophical to the personal.”

Author Ernest Gaines is a native of Oscar. His works include “A Lesson Before Dying,” “A Gathering of Old Men” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”

Musician Allen Toussaint, in addition to his renown for his own career as a performer, wrote hits produced by other artists, including “Working in the Coalmine,” “Ride Your Pony,” “Fortune Teller,” “Get Out of My Life, Woman” and “Mother-in-Law.”

Also to receive the Medal of the Arts are Herb Alpert, Lin Arison, Joan Myers Brown, Ellsworth Kelly, Laurie Olin and the Washington Performing Arts Society.

According to the news release, the 1 p.m. “event will also be live streamed at, and an archive of the video will be available after the event on the White House YouTube page.”

“Award recipients are selected based on their contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States,” reads the news release.

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