President to honor former Lake Charles resident

By 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


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.