Broadcaster Magazine

Canadians Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

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  • Canadians Frank Gehry and Lorne Michaels were at the White House to receive America’s highest civilian honour: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    The Toronto natives are among 21 new honourees being recognized by U.S. President Barack Obama, who described the star-studded list of recipients as “a particularly impressive class.”

    Gehry is a world-renowned architect whose best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. He was also behind the redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

    Michaels is a 13-time Emmy winner best known for creating and producing the legendary sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live.” He has also produced “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and the acclaimed sitcom “30 Rock.”

    The commander-in-chief received many laughs from the assembled audience as he turned his attention to Michaels, praising his work in launching the influential “SNL.”

    “On ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he’s created a world where a band of no-names become comedy’s biggest stars; where our friends the Coneheads and cheerleaders and land sharks and basement deadbeats and motivational speakers and an unfrozen caveman lawyer show up,”  said Obama.

    “Ater four decades, even in this fractured media culture that we’ve got, ‘SNL’ remains appointment-viewing.”

    Following the president’s remarks, citations were read for each individual honouree,  with  Michaels hailed as “one of the most transformative entertainment figures of our time.”

    Other recipients include retired NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks, rocker Bruce Springsteen, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, and music icon Diana Ross.