Morgan Freeman, Mel Brooks among National Medal of Arts winners
Actor Morgan Freeman, entertainment legend Mel Brooks and celebrity chef José Andrés are all headed to the White House next week as 2015 winners of the National Medal of Arts and the National Medal of Humanities. 
Freeman is receiving his medal for his “iconic stage and screen performances” that have “have brought to life characters from the whole spectrum of the human experience,” according to a White House statement. 
The 79-year-old has long been close with Obama. He donated $1 million to a super PAC backing Obama’s reelection bid in 2012. The president dined with Freeman and fellow actor Tom Hanks earlier this year. 
The White House lauded Andrés for “cultivating our palettes and shaping our culture” in his “innovative” restaurants and commitment to expanding access to education. 
Andrés triggered a round of lawsuits when he pulled out of an agreement to open a restaurant in Trump’s new downtown D.C. hotel after he made inflammatory statements about Hispanic immigrants.
Brooks — known for his big-screen comedy hits such as “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein” — is being honored for “a lifetime of making the world laugh.” 
“As a writer, director, actor, and musician, he pioneered the art of musical comedy, and his hilarious, thought-provoking work on film and in theater have earned him the rare distinction of winning Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy awards,” the White House said. 
Also receiving a medal is author Ron Chernow, who wrote a biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired “Hamilton,” the Tony Award-winning musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda.