“Country music is a bit of a house divided right now,” Marty Stuart told me. “There’s corporate country music that is product and makes the cash register ring. But the truth is in the rural settings, the kids in the hinterland who have the real stuff in the heart, not just the MTV version. That’s what tells me the roots are alive and well. That’s what I keep my eyes on now instead of the cash register.”
GRAND OLE OPRY TO SPARK UP KENCEN
Stuart, who played the Kennedy Center with Johnny Cash’s band and is a former president of the Country Music Foundation, hosts the Grand Ole Opry at the Kennedy Center’s first Country Music Festival, kicking off Sunday. ”This [Kennedy Center engagement] further ingrains country music into main-street culture. It’s a milestone for country music,” he said.
BUCHWALD PLUCKS SOME LAST PRIZES
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Art Buchwald in the hospice where he’s still holding court. When Buchwald, who hasn’t lost his sense of humor, asked to be pardoned, the “governator” offered Art his plane. The columnist receives the French Order of Arts and Letters award — that’s higher than the Legion of Honor — on Wednesday. Visitors last week included House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Glenn and Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps.
OLD COUNTRY COULD USE THESE AMERICANS
The political landscape in Lebanon may be shaky, but Washington is on solid ground with honorable Lebanese-Americans working toward re-establishing a sovereign, independent country, as shown by the turnout Thursday evening at the Fairmont Hotel, where Lebanese-Americans honored their own during the American Task Force for Lebanon awards. Tony Shalhoub, who plays the title character in the USA Network show “Monk,” received the ATFL Lifetime Achievement Award and responded that he was deeply moved to be at such a large “family gathering.”
“It feels just like home,” Shalhoub said. “No one listens, and everyone is talking at the same time!”
HIGH ACHIEVERS ALL — ONE EVEN TO GET A STAMP
Other notable Lebanese-Americans spotted at the ATFL gala: Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich.; former Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Nassif; White House correspondent Helen Thomas; Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif.; investment guru Peter J. Tanous; former U.S. protocol chief Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt; Ralph Nader; former NATO Commander Gen. George A. Joulwan; pollster John Zogby; and Dr. Charles Elachi, head of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who will be among those honored by a new series of postage stamps, “Distinguished American Diplomats,” debuting in May.