WASHINGTON — Will Ferrell, who refined his impersonation of President George W. Bush on the sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and later took his presidential act to Broadway, was awarded the top American humor prize Sunday night.

The TV star went on to make movies and co-found the popular website FunnyorDie.com, which won him the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

It was the Bush impression, though, that might have made the Washington crowd laugh – and cringe – the hardest Sunday.

“Washington is not a city much known for its comedy – at least not the intentional kind,” said PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, who mentored Ferrell on his journalistic skills for the movie “Anchorman.”

She introduced a clip of him playing Bush in “You’re Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush” on Broadway. Dressed in a flight suit under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” he explained how Morocco had sent 2,000 trained monkeys to fight terrorism “and make children laugh.”

With that kind of comedy, Ferrell “got Democrats to pay and see and applaud George W. Bush,” she said.

Conan O’Brien, Jack Black, Matthew Broderick, Ben Stiller and the rock band Green Day performed Sunday in Ferrell’s honor, joined by Molly Shannon, Tim Meadows and Andy Samberg from Ferrell’s “SNL” days.

The show will be taped for broadcast Oct. 31 on PBS stations nationwide.

Opening the show, Black said of his friend, “He’s crazy funny. He makes you laugh so hard you cry and pee simultaneously.”

Shannon said that contrary to his TV persona, Ferrell is very serious and sweet to work with.

As for the award, she joked, “Will’s agents and manager clearly bought this for him.”

When he was awarded the prize, a bronze bust of Twain, Ferrell joked that he had turned the prize down 13 times before but decided to accept this time because of the prize money (there’s not any) and to be watched on PBS “by hundreds of people across this country.”

He thanked his wife, Viveca Paulson, but told her the night was about him, not her. And he thanked the Kennedy Center as “one of the few places that uphold comedy as what it truly is, an art form.”

Hospitalized with pneumonia, country singer cancels two concerts

ASHLAND, Ky. — Country music singer Loretta Lynn was hospitalized over the weekend with the early stages of pneumonia, according to a representative of the performer.

The 76-year-old Lynn was scheduled to perform Saturday at the Performing Arts Center in Ashland, Ky., and Sunday in Durham, N.C.

Loretta Lynn Enterprises posted a statement on her website Saturday night that confirmed the cancellations due to illness.

“Doctors have diagnosed her as the beginning stages pneumonia, and will continue to need rest. Loretta is doing well and is disappointed but feels confident she will be ready for upcoming November dates.”

In August, Lynn canceled shows because of knee surgery.

Before that, she returned to live performances with a show at the Grand Ole Opry after being forced to cancel shows in Ohio and Connecticut because she was hospitalized for heat exhaustion.

‘Survivor’ runs for governor

INDIANAPOLIS — Rupert Boneham won over TV viewers during 2004’s “Survivor: All-Stars” – earning a nifty $1 million as the overwhelming choice for fan favorite on the reality show. Now the bushy-bearded Boneham is hoping Indiana voters will find him just as charming.

Boneham, 47, announced Saturday that he’s seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for Indiana governor, saying he wants to take on the state’s political establishment because voters deserve better.

He said he’s the best candidate to replace Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has reached his term limit and can’t run in 2012, because he’s “not beholden to any special interests.”

Sam Goldstein, the state chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, said he’s “very excited” about Boneham’s announcement.

Dress sells for pretty penny

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The dress Marilyn Monroe wore in “River of No Return” has sold to a private buyer for $504,000.

Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, said Saturday that the dress was sold at an auction in China.

Monroe wore the green velour dress while she sang “I’m Gonna File My Claim” in the 1954 Western in which she portrayed Kay Washington, a gambler’s wife.

Among other items that have been sold at the auction were the bustier that Madonna wore during her “Who’s That Girl” tour in 1987. It has sold for $72,000.