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DeGeneres receives Mark Twain Prize

Some of the nation’s top comedians hailed Ellen DeGeneres as a trailblazer Monday night as she received the nation’s highest humor prize.

The Kennedy Center is awarding DeGeneres the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The show will be broadcast Oct. 30 on PBS stations.

“Thanks to everyone at PBS. I am so happy to be part of your farewell season,” DeGeneres joked in accepting the prize and taking a jab at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans to stop funding public broadcasting.

On the red carpet before the show, DeGeneres said she doesn’t see herself as political with her comedy, even though she has been a trailblazer.

“I just want to make people happy and make people laugh,” she said.

John Leguizamo saluted DeGeneres and PBS for planning to air the show.

“How about that? A gay woman on PBS – with public money and the Kennedys,” he said. “It’s like the tea party’s worst nightmare.”

Lawsuit filed over phone hacking

Four alleged phone hacking victims have filed suit against the publisher of Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, a tabloid once edited by CNN presenter Piers Morgan, a prominent lawyer said late Monday. As far as is publicly known, the lawsuits are the first to hit a publication outside Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire and could mark the further expansion of a scandal which has already tarnished a big chunk of Britain’s establishment.

Mark Lewis said the new suits had been filed against the Trinity Mirror Group at Britain’s High Court. He confirmed the claimants’ identities – former England soccer coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, soccer star David Beckham’s family nanny Abbie Gibson, former Blackburn Rovers soccer team captain Garry Flitcroft, and U.K. television actress Shobna Gulati – but gave few other details.

Britain’s Judicial Office said it had no details on the suits. Trinity Mirror spokesman Nick Fullagar did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The birthday bunch

Singer Barbara Ann Hawkins (The Dixie Cups) is 69. Director Ang Lee is 58. Country singer Dwight Yoakam is 56. Singer “Weird Al” Yankovic is 53. Bassist Robert Trujillo (Metallica) is 48. Actor Ryan Reynolds is 36. Singer Matthew Shultz (Cage the Elephant) is 29. Actress Masiela Lusha (“George Lopez”) is 27. Actress Jessica Stroup (“90210”) is 26.