Oprah, McCartney Light Up Kennedy Center

Even with star power as strong as Oprah Winfrey's or Sir Paul McCartney's, receiving the Kennedy Center Honor is not just another day.

"It feels like you on your very best day. It feels like a combination of graduation, your first child being born, your greatest accomplishment," Oprah told CBS News on the red carpet of the 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors Sunday.

"I was reading the paper this morning and for the first time I thought, maybe it's true. Maybe I do deserve all this," the legendary talk show host said.

President Obama presented Winfrey, McCartney and three other honorees, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, country music singer Merle Haggard and Broadway composer Jerry Herman, with the awards at the White House before the ceremony began.

Herman called the honor "the highlight of a lifetime," and Jones said he felt like he could cry.

"It was good to see him again," McCartney said of Mr. Obama. "He said he's given me all of the awards he can give me this year." The president presented the former Beatle with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in June.

No Doubt opened the tribute to McCartney; leader singer Gwen Stefani told CBS News, "The whole weekend has been so incredible and inspiring." McCartney asked Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to sing the last four songs on the Beatles' album "Abbey Road." "I just about died," Tyler said just before the curtain lifted.

The 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors airs on CBS at 9 p.m. ET December 28.

"I think it's the number one cultural event in America, probably, on television," Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said Sunday.

One thing that won't make the broadcast: what Mr. Obama said to each honoree as he presented the award.

"Oh, he said he loved me," Oprah spilled to CBS News.

As for the rainbow ribbon award itself, McCartney said, "I'm never gonna take it off."

"Washington Unplugged" airs live daily at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com.


Christine Delargy is an associate producer for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. For more of Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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