Conan O’Brien asked the audience at TNT’s Christmas in Washington taping in Washington Sunday night to welcome embattled South Korean singer PSY, as though perhaps they needed some urging after the flap over his anti-American protest song eight years ago. They didn’t appear to need any coaching. His reception was loud and positive, with the audience clapping and cheering.
PSY began a somewhat tentative version of the Nat King Cole classic, The Christmas Song, leading some in the audience to shift uncomfortably in their seats. But not long into the song–somewhere around Jack Frost nipping at his nose, the music stopped. PSY suggested that was not why they came to see him, and immediately broke into a Christmas version of his YouTube hit, complete with dancing Santa’s and reindeer.
The crowd went wild. At the end of the taping, when the First Family customarily shakes hands and talks briefly with the performers, the First Lady gave PSY a hug, followed by a handshake from the President, who engaged PSY in a short, animated discussion–at one point PSY appeared to rock back with laughter–and patted the singer on the shoulder.
The generous reception was very much in the spirit of the evening, which featured Elves from the Children’s National Medical Center, Diana Ross singing Amazing Grace, and a roof-raising version of Go Tell It On the Mountain by the Washington Youth Choir.
The audience included a Who’s Who of Washington power players including the President and Vice President, senators, House members, FCC commissioners and CNN anchors and reporters. There were also plenty of Turner/Time Warner bigwigs, including Jeff Bewkes and Phil Kent.
Unlike most Washington power parties, children were everywhere–FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, for example, briefly sported a hat in the form of a duck in an innertube–a balloon creation–courtesy of his daughter.
Christmas in Washington airs Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. on TNT.