From Dylan to Lucas: Award-Winning, Washington-Style

The Obamas give the National Medal of Arts and Humanities medal; Common Sense Media honors media for kids

The Oscars may be coming to Hollywood, but in Washington it seemed Thursday night was awards night for the stars.
At the White House, President and First Lady Michele Obama awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities medal to 20 honorees and organizations among them Clint Eastwood, John Williams, Rita Moreno and Bob Dylan, though neither Dylan nor Eastwood attended.
Eastwood’s award citation cited “his artistry as a director and actor” and described his films and performances as “essays in individuality, hard truths, and the essence of what it means to be American.”
Dylan’s cited the singer’s “achievements as one of America’s leading musical artists in popular culture” and called him an icon of youthful rebellion and poetic sensitivity, and his songs echo in the hearts of millions.
Williams, who was in attendance, was lauded “for his achievements in symphonic music for motion pictures,” and cited as a “preeminent composer and conductor [whose] scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades.”
Moreno, also in attendance, was honored “for her remarkable achievements on stage and screen. Her performances have served as touchstones to millions of Americans for whom she reflects their own passions, troubles, and joys,” the award citation said.
Others honored at the ceremonies included graphic designer Milton Glaser, Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin, soprano Jessye Norman, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Charlotte Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., the School of American Ballet, painter and sculptor Frank Stella,  conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, biographer Robert A. Caro, author Annette Gordon-Reed, historian and author David Levering Lewis, author William H. McNeill, former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello, philanthropist and collector Albert H. Small, author, presidential aid and historian Theodore C. Sorensen and Elie Wiesel.
Meanwhile at the Kennedy Center, Alfre Woodard emceed a ceremony as Common Sense Media gave its annual awards to a group that included George Lucas and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski.
Common Sense Media is concerned about the media children see; it offers content ratings as well as media training information for parents and children.
Lucas, director, producer and chairman of Lucasfilm, was cited for lifetime achievement for innovation in entertainment in education, with the group pointing both to his work at the George Lucas Educational Foundation and his Young Indiana Jones series that explores historic figures.
Lucas, speaking on tape said his foundation and the group share many goals in “helping inform parents about what is age appropriate for their children to see.
“This is an important job for all of us to make sure that children see the right material for their age,” he said.
Genachowski won the Newt Minow public policy award and was presented it by Kennedy FCC chairman Minow, best known for calling television “a vast wasteland.” Genachowski, honored for his work in behalf of children including plans of the FCC to develop children media education efforts, said parents have tough time these days.
“There is no more important or consequential job than being a parent.
“In the digital age, the opportunities are real and so are the dangers. The potential of the internet and new technology to transform lives for the better is almost limitless. But new technologies can expose kids to new risks and outpace the ability of parents to guide their children through the challenging world. Parents are left asking if they should be embracing these changes of worried about them.”
Common Sense Media also honored Nichole Pinkard for her work developing a groundbreaking media education program for kids on Chicago’s South Side, and Harvard University cognition and education professor Howard Gardner for his on work on child cognition.