President Barack Obama awarded Amagansett resident and Saturday Night Live creator/producer Lorne Michaels the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday, November 22. Michaels was one of 21 recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Obama placed the medals around each recipient’s neck during a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. Other stars who received the medals along with Michaels, included Academy Award-winner and Hamptons visitor Tom Hanks, and his wife and actress Rita Wilson, basketball legends Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, actors Robert De Niro and Cicely Tyson, rocker Bruce Springsteen, singer Diana Ross, architect Frank Gehry, Native American advocate Elouise Cobell (posthumous), physicist Richard Garwin, NASA engineer Margaret H. Hamilton, computer scientist Grace Hopper (posthumous), sculptor Maya Lin, attorney and former Federal Communications Commission Chair Newton Minow, Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron, sportscaster Vin Scully and philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor – it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way,” Obama said in a statement announcing this most recent batch of medal winners.
Further, the statement notes that the Presidential Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Obama has given out more Medals of Freedom than any other president. Among the notable past recipients, East Hampton’s Steven Spielberg and Shelter Island’s Itzhak Perlman received the medals in 2015.
Michaels’ Saturday Night Live has run continuously for more than 40 years. The 13 Emmy-winner also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers and 30 Rock, starring Amagansett’s Alec Baldwin, among other popular, award-winning shows.
To cap off the warm and jovial affair, the recipients got together for a mannequin challenge. By the look on De Niro’s face, he was just glad the current trend isn’t the Harlem Shake or ice bucket challenge…
Look what I got everyone to do! I’m in the pink dress laughing with Rita! It’s the #MannequinChallenge, Presidential Medal of Freedom Edition at the @WhiteHouse!! Starring #RobertDeNiro, @RitaWilson, @TheEllenShow, @KareemAbdulJabbar_33, @TomHanks, #BillGates, #MichaelJordan, @FrankGehry, my mama #DianaRoss, and more!