Holiday pomp and circumstance on TNT’s “Christmas in Washington”

By Jay Bobbin

Interesting gatherings are in many people’s holiday plans, and Ellen DeGeneres has a big one on tap.

The award-winning comedian and syndicated talk show star spends a Christmas in Washington by hosting the annual TNT variety special Friday, Dec. 17. Taped the previous weekend at the National Building Museum in the nation’s capital – before an audience that was slated to include President and Mrs. Obama – the program features Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox, Andrea Bocelli, Matthew Morrison (Glee), Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) and Maxwell as showcased performers.

“It’s going to be fun … I can’t wait,” DeGeneres says of her added television duty for the holidays. “I’m just going to be me, and I think the reason they asked me to do it is that they think I can. It’s a great group of talent, and I’m thrilled that I get to witness it myself. I’m there as a fan as well. I love all these people, and it’s going to be amazing, an incredible event.

Many familiar tunes can be expected from the latest Christmas in Washington, which is again under the stewardship of veteran producer George Stevens Jr. Carey is particularly versed in sounds of the season, having recently released her second holiday album, Merry Christmas II You.

Even the most casual Ellen DeGeneres Show viewer knows the weekday program gets into the holiday spirit big-time, but its host maintains she always has that feeling: “I’ve never understood a New Year’s resolution, or Thanksgiving being the day to be grateful. I’m grateful every day, I really am. I try to make a resolution every morning when I wake up, and I try to live my life in a kind way.”

Many guests of DeGeneres’ show are likely to consider “kind” an understatement when it comes to her. “I’ve been giving cars away,” she notes, “and giving money to people who have been in these horrible situations. It reminds me how lucky I am. Every single day, I get to meet people who show me what’s really going on, and it makes me so happy that I can help alter someone’s life or give them hope – or even make someone smile by doing the show every day.”

DeGeneres has an ongoing relationship with Turner Broadcasting, which owns TNT, through specials she’s done for TBS’ Comedy Festival the past several years.

“They’ve been very good to me,” she says. “It started out with me doing just one special, and that went well and people liked it, so I made a deal to do more. I like to do different things; I don’t think I could just be a talk show host. With having done stand-up, traveling as much as I did and even doing a sitcom and movies, it’s nice to challenge myself and get outside the comfort zone.”

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Credit: TNT