Entertainment & Arts

Sting and Tom Hanks honoured by Obama

Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting and Lily Tomlin with President Obama Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Al Green, Tom Hanks, Patricia McBride, Sting and Lily Tomlin with President Obama on Sunday

British singer Sting and Oscar-winning US actor Tom Hanks have been feted in Washington as recipients of this year's Kennedy Center honours.

Soul singer Al Green, 9 to 5 star Lily Tomlin and ballet dancer Patricia McBride were also saluted at the White House ahead of a gala concert.

Sting, 63, said it was "rare" for an Englishman to receive the honour.

"I'm not sure when I'll wear it again, but I think I look rather fetching in it," he said of his rainbow ribbon.

The former Police frontman is set to join the cast of his Broadway musical The Last Ship, about shipbuilding in the north east of England.

Hanks, who won Oscars for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, said he "couldn't believe it" when he was told he was among the honourees.

Tomlin, 75, also admitted she had been surprised by her selection, saying she had "never been privy to the insider's circle".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Clockwise from left: Tom Hanks, Sting, Al Green, Lily Tomlin and Patricia McBride

Sunday's White House reception saw this year's recipients presented with their ceremonial ribbons by President Obama.

The event preceded a concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which saw Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and Bruno Mars sing Sting's hits.

The musician told reporters it was "quite something [to] have other people sing my songs and have to do virtually nothing but smile".

Jennifer Hudson and Usher kicked off proceedings with a medley of Green's hits, before film director Steven Spielberg described Hanks as "America's favourite son".

"Tonight, Washington puts the arts above politics," said host Stephen Colbert. "Because no matter what party you belong to, everybody wants a selfie with Tom Hanks."

The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has been honouring stars of the stage, screen and concert hall since 1978.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hanks and Rita Wilson have been married since 1988

This year's concert, which also featured appearances by Earth, Wind and Fire, Jane Fonda and Glee actress Jane Lynch, will be broadcast on the CBS network on 30 December.

Hanks was joined in Washington by his actress wife Rita Wilson, who is set to follow her husband onto the Broadway stage.

Following Hanks' 2013 appearance in Nora Ephron's play Lucky Guy, Wilson will appear in Larry David's new comedy Fish in the Dark from 2 February.

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