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Elton John Tears Up As Biden Surprises Him With National Humanities Medal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — “God bless you, let’s have some music,” said Elton John.

With that, the White House South Lawn was transformed into a musical lovefest Friday night as John played a farewell gig to honor everyday “heroes” like teachers, nurses and AIDS activists. But as it turns out, the event was also to honor the 75-year-old British songwriter — President Joe Biden surprised him with the National Humanities Medal for being a “tidal wave” who helped people rise up for justice.

John seemed almost overcome by the accolades, telling the audience of 2,000 people: “I don’t know what to say. … I don’t know how to take a compliment very well but it’s wonderful to be here amongst so many people who have helped my AIDS foundation and my heroes, that ones that work day to day on the front line.”

He said he’d played some beautiful venues before, but the stage in front of the White House, beneath a massive open-air tent on a perfect autumn night, was “probably the icing on the cake.”

He kicked off the show with “Your Song,” his first big international hit.

The intimate guest list included teachers, nurses, frontline workers and LGBTQ advocates, plus former first lady Laura Bush, civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges, education activist Malala Yousafzai and Jeanne White-Ginder, an AIDS activist and mother of Ryan White, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1990.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden talked about the British singer’s activism, the power of his music and his all-around goodness. The event was dreamed up and paid for by A+E and the History Channel.

“Seamus Heaney once wrote, and I quote, ’Once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme,” Biden said. “Throughout his incredible career, Sir Elton John has been that tidal wave, a tidal wave to help people rise up and make hope and history rhyme.”

The night, in fact, was called “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a reference to the poem Biden quoted by Ireland’s Heaney.

Sir Elton — he was knighted in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II — has sold over 300 million records worldwide, played over 4,000 shows in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, his 1997 reworking of “Candle In The Wind” to eulogize Princess Diana, which sold 33 million copies.

John punctuated the hits Friday with emotional tidbits of his history, including a shoutout to Laura Bush and former president George W. Bush for his administration’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, and a story of how a dying Ryan White and his mother pushed him into advocacy in the first place, and helped him get sober.

“I wouldn’t be here talking tonight,” he said. “They saved my life.”

He then dedicated “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” to Ryan.

Despite the presence of plenty of lawmakers, the political speak was kept to a minimum, except for when John said, “I just wish America would be more bipartisan on everything.”

It was his first White House gig since he performed with Stevie Wonder at a state dinner in 1998 honoring British Prime Minister Tony Blair. John is on a farewell tour that began in July after performing for more than 50 years.

The show came together after A+E Networks and the History Channel asked the White House and John if they’d be up for a collaboration honoring “everyday history-makers” as well as John himself.

It’s not clear whether the show will be broadcast. John has worked with A+E in the past on his global HIV/AIDS charity, the Elton John Foundation, which has raised more than $525 million to combat the virus around the world.

John is sticking around to play a sold-out show at Nationals Park Saturday.

The president and first lady are big fans. Biden wrote in a 2017 memoir about singing “Crocodile Rock” to his two young boys as he drove them to school, and again later to son Beau before he died of cancer at age 46.

“I started singing the lyrics to Beau, quietly, so just the two of us could hear it,” Biden wrote. “Beau didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my own tears that he was smiling.”

John played the song Friday, saying someone told him Biden used to sing it to his little boys. “I can’t imagine him singin’ it,” John quipped before suggesting the president come up on stage. He did not. But the whole crowd did do the “La-La-Las” from their seats.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was also a fan of John. He tried to get John to perform at his 2017 inauguration but John declined, saying he didn’t think it was appropriate for a Brit to play at the swearing-in of an American president.

The White House insisted Friday’s show wasn’t an effort to troll Trump, who has praised John in his books and has often featured John’s music — including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” — in his pre-rally playlists over the years. Trump nicknamed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man” for his record of test-firing missiles.

John played both Friday, to thunderous applause.





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Elton John Says He’s Quitting Twitter And Elon Musk Tries To Get Him To Stay

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And Twitter owner Elon Musk isn’t thrilled about it.

The legendary pianist tweeted he was leaving the social platform because of “misinformation”:

Musk tried to keep the door open for the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” superstar to change his mind.

“Hope you come back,” Musk tweeted.

Then, in a strange aside, the world’s richest person asked what particular “misinformation” John found so bothersome.

He’s also allowed people who were previously suspended for spreading COVID misinformation, including extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), back on the platform.

Even if Musk doesn’t get why the current state of Twitter might not appeal to John or others, plenty of Twitter users were happy to fill in the blanks.





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Steve Martin, Martin Short Trade Insults In Lively ‘Tonight Show’ Interview

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Comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short didn’t ease up on the jabs as they took turns making fun of each other ― and Jimmy Fallon ― during a late night interview on Thursday.

After an introduction from Fallon, Short went directly after the host, calling him “James Kanye Fallon,” a comedian with the easiest late night show “to fall asleep to.”

Gesturing to the audience, Short added, “Really, tell everyone what you were telling about why it’s finally the right time to suspend the Constitution,” in reference to Donald Trump’s comments this week.

Short, who joined Martin in a roast of Fallon’s appearance, later mocked his own look and said his striped socks looked like “Margaret Hamilton wore [them] in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

Martin later jokingly weighed in on the holidays and explained that his favorite part of decorating the tree is putting “a little, tiny star on top.”

“And thank you for being up there, I know that could get uncomfortable,” said Martin as he patted Short on the shoulder.

Watch more of the comedic pair’s hilarious interview on “The Tonight Show” below.





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Stephen Colbert Reveals The 1 Lesson Peru Can Teach America About Trump

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Stephen Colbert put the spotlight on another country and how it dealt with a president who tried to attack Congress during his monologue on Thursday.

Colbert highlighted the ousting of Peru President Pedro Castillo after he was arrested following an attempt to take control of the government by dissolving Congress this week.

Prosecutors said in a statement this week that “no authority can put itself above the Constitution” and that the country’s constitution “enshrines the separation of powers and establishes that Peru is a democratic and sovereign Republic.”

Colbert didn’t waste time on Thursday as he appeared to draw a line between Peru’s presidential controversy and former President Donald Trump’s actions during the Jan. 6 riot.

“So, you can take immediate action against a president who attacks Congress? I thought you had to dither about it for two years until he has dinner with Nazis and then still not do anything,” quipped Colbert before a hefty applause from his crowd.

Colbert later discussed Castillo’s hope to stop an investigation into his administration after he declared he would “rule by decree.”

“Of course because it was a Peruvian coup, he immediately got the support of the MyAlpaca guy,” he said.

You can watch the rest of Colbert’s monologue below.





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Trevor Noah Says Bye To ‘Daily Show’ In Teary-Eyed Tribute To Fans, Black Women

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Trevor Noah, departing host of “The Daily Show,” said goodbye to his beloved late night program after seven years on Thursday night.

Noah, who took the helm as a replacement for previous host Jon Stewart, addressed fans – and haters – in an emotional farewell episode that also included his correspondents giving him props one last time.

The final episode aired despite Comedy Central not naming a new host, or hosts, who will lead the program beginning on Jan. 17.

The South African comedian told his audience that he’s grateful for every single one of his supporters and reflected on the show’s struggles to fill seats, a contrast to recent crowds at tapings, he said.

His farewell address, however, specifically focused on his praise and support for Black women. Noah reflected on the love that his mother, grandmother, aunt and others have shown him over the years.

“If you truly want to learn about America, you talk to Black women,” he said.

“Because unlike everybody else, Black women can’t afford to fuck around and find out. Black people understand how hard it is, when things go bad, especially in America but any place that Black people exist…”

Noah continued: “When things go bad, Black people know that it gets worse for them. But Black women in particular, they know what shit is, genuinely.”

He suggested that talking to Black women could guide people looking for the best or the most equitable way to do something in their lives.

You can watch part of Noah’s goodbye message below.





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Prince Harry On Why He Feels Guilty About Meghan Markle’s Relationship With Her Dad

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“It’s incredibly sad what happened; she had a father before this and now she doesn’t have a father,” the Duke of Sussex said. “And I shouldered that because if Meg wasn’t with me, then her dad would still be her dad.”

Harry and Meghan discussed her rocky relationship with her father — and the drama leading up to her wedding day with Harry in 2018 — in the episode.

Thomas Markle, who said he had a heart attack days before the wedding, did not actually attend the ceremony. He has since given several interviews about Harry and Meghan to the press.

During the episode, Meghan also said that she and Harry had called her father before their wedding to ask him if he was staging photos for the press and that he had denied it.

Meghan said that she told Harry after they got off the phone with her father that she didn’t believe him.

“And I’m finding out that you’re not coming to our wedding, through a tabloid!” she said later in the episode after sharing that she had repeatedly called her father, to no avail.





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Netflix, Royals Clash Over ‘Harry & Meghan’ Contact Disclaimer

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Neither Kensington Palace nor Buckingham Palace were contacted by Netflix as the streaming giant claims in a disclaimer that begins the new series “Harry & Meghan,” a palace source told HuffPost.

The first episode of the docuseries, which premiered on Thursday, opens with a black-and-white statement that reads: “Members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content in this series.”

A royal source told HuffPost that Netflix made no attempt to contact members of the royal household, Kensington Palace or Buckingham Palace.

London-based CNN correspondent Max Foster reported Kensington Palace did receive an email from what purported to be a third-party production company, “but they couldn’t verify it so didn’t respond.”

A Netflix source insisted to HuffPost that both King Charles and Prince William’s offices were contacted and were given time to respond ahead of the docuseries release.

Kensington Palace had no comment, and Buckingham Palace did not return a request for comment.

HuffPost has reached out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell organization.

More revelations from Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan:”





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Meghan Markle Says Engagement Interview With Harry Was ‘An Orchestrated Reality Show’

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Meghan Markle shed insight into her and Prince Harry’s 2017 engagement interview, revealing in the third episode of the couple’s new Netflix series released Thursday that the BBC piece was an “orchestrated reality show.”

“It was, you know, rehearsed,” the Duchess of Sussex said of the couple’s first joint interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain, as footage played and also showed the couple posing for cameras during their engagement announcement.

“We did the thing out with the press, and then we went right inside, took the coat off, sat down and did the interview,” Meghan explained. “So it’s all in that same moment.”

“You mean just like prepping you that they’re gonna ask this, this, this, or how does that work?” a voice asks the couple in the episode.

Prince Harry stands with his fiancée Meghan Markle as she shows off her engagement ring whilst they pose for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27, 2017.

DANIEL LEAL via Getty Images

“Yeah, but also, ‘Then, they’ll be a moment where they’ll wanna see the ring, so show the ring,’” Meghan continued, as Netflix cut to footage of Harry speaking about the main diamond from the ring being sourced from Botswana, and that the diamonds on the sides of the main stone were from his mother’s jewelry collection.

“My point is we weren’t allowed to tell our story, because they didn’t want our [story],” Meghan says, as Harry interjects and says, “We’ve never been allowed to tell our story” and the couple laugh.

“That’s true,” Meghan said with a smile, as Harry added, “That’s the consistency.”

“That is consistent. Yeah. Until now,” Meghan pointedly adds.

In the first episode of the series, the two spoke about meeting each other over Instagram.

Harry said that he first spotted a video of a friend with Meghan ― who was partially obscured by a dog-ear filter in the clip ― and thought “Who is that?”

When the friend told Meghan that the prince was interested in meeting, she revealed that she scrolled through Prince Harry’s social media feed.

“I went through, and it was just like beautiful photography and all these environmental shots, and this time he was spending in Africa,” she said.

Meghan later added that the prince had a list of qualities he was looking for in a partner, but the prince refused to elaborate further.

“Let’s not go there,” he said firmly. “Not sharing the list.”

More revelations from Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan:”





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