The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After 33 years, ‘Christmas in Washington’ has been canceled

The first family, from third left to right, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, join performers Aloe Blacc, left, Darius Rucker and Rita Ora, right, on stage singing the Christmas carol during the taping of the 2014 Christmas in Washington presentation at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 14, 2014. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

After more than three decades and five administrations, “Christmas in Washington,” the celebrity-packed holiday special attended by the first family, won’t be returning for its 34th holiday season.

No, the Grinch didn’t have anything to do with it — at least we don’t think he did.

After last year’s show, hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, TNT announced that it would no longer broadcast the Christmas special, ending a 15-year partnership with veteran producer George Stevens Jr. and his son, Michael. The Stevenses, who had just been ousted as the producers of the Kennedy Center Honors gala, said they were in search of a new broadcast partner.

Several of the performers from the now canceled "Christmas in Washington" TV special have spent time with President Obama in other musical situations. (Video: The Washington Post)

But a new network sponsor was never found, and according to the Stevens Co., the 2014 broadcast was the last.

“Christmas in Washington,” which began in 1982, was like a grade-school pageant on steroids. The night was filled with marquee musicals acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Tim McGraw, Gloria Estefan, Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey, who crooned Christmas classics on stage while the first family and other Washington VIPs sang along from the audience.

For the big finale everyone, including the first family, headed to the stage for hand-holding, hugging and a big singalong. It was a hot holiday ticket and decades-long tradition.

The special, which benefited the Children’s National Health System, was created by producer-writer George Stevens Jr. His son Michael signed on as a producer in 1993 and went on to direct the show from 2004 to 2014. Michael Stevens died Oct. 15 from complications caused by stomach cancer.

When asked what George Stevens, who received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2012, was planning to do next, a representative from his company said: “Mr. Stevens always has stuff going on but nothing right now.”