Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve is an annual television special that airs every New Year's Eve on ABC. The special broadcasts from New York City'sTimes Square, and prominently features coverage of its annual ball drop event, along with live and pre-recorded musical performances by popular acts from Times Square and Hollywood, respectively.

Its creator and namesake was entertainer Dick Clark, who conceived New Year's Rockin' Eve as a direct competitor to Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians' popular and long-running New Year's Eve broadcasts on CBS from the Waldorf-Astoria. Clark personally felt Lombardo's big band music skewed too old and did not appeal well to younger viewers, leading to his show putting a focus on pop music. The first two editions, which were hosted by Three Dog Night and George Carlin respectively, and featured Dick Clark assuming the role of Times Square reporter, were broadcast by NBC for 1973 and 1974 respectively. In 1974-75, the program moved to its current home of ABC, and Dick Clark assumed the role of host. Following the death of Guy Lombardo and the decline of the Royal Canadians' special, New Year's Rockin' Eve grew in popularity, and became ingrained in pop culture—even prompting Clark himself to make appearances on other programs in parody of his role. To this day, New Year's Rockin' Eve has remained the most highest rated of the New Year's specials broadcast on the United States' major television networks; its 2012 edition peaked at 22.6 million home viewers – not including viewers watching from public locations which are not measured by Nielsen.[1][2]

Dick Clark would host the special annually from 1974 through 2004, interrupted only by special coverage of the year 2000 celebrations produced by ABC News—where Clark joined overall host Peter Jennings as a correspondent from Times Square. The complications of a stroke suffered by Clark in December 2004 had a major effect on his role in the special. Clark was replaced as host by Regis Philbin in 2005. Clark would return to the special beginning in 2006, but his participation was affected by a speech impediment that resulted from the stroke. Clark would cede hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest, although he continued to make limited appearances during the special. The death of Dick Clark on April 18, 2012 left Seacrest as the sole host of the special beginning with its 2012–13 edition.

Contents[edit | edit source]

 [hide*1 Format

Format[edit][edit | edit source]

New Year's Rockin' Eve is primarily broadcast from Times Square in New York City, providing coverage of the New Year's Eve festivities held there, culminating with the long-running ball drop leading to midnight and the New Year. The special also features pre-recorded segments featuring performances bypopular musicians; since the 2006–07 edition, these concert segments have been presented from a studio in Los Angeles by Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas. Since the 2005–06 edition, New Year's Rockin' Eve has also featured live performances from a stage in Times Square. Since 2000–01's edition, coverage has begun with an hour-long primetime show airing at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Following late local programming, the main New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast begins at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT (outside the Eastern and Pacific time zones, this portion of the broadcast can be tape delayed by affiliates so the countdown corresponds to local time). After the conclusion of festivities from Times Square, the special continues into Part 2 (usually running later into the night, as far as 3:00 a.m. ET/PT), which consists of pre-recorded performances.[3][4][5] Since the 2012 edition, the primetime hour of New Year's Rockin' Eve has itself been preceded by music retrospective specials, primarily featuring archived performances from the Dick Clark Productions library.[6][2]

Since 2005, Ryan Seacrest has hosted the live show outside in Times Square (along with a celebrity correspondent providing additional reports from attendees). From his return and until his death, Dick Clark hosted a limited number of segments from Times Square Studios approaching midnight, but still conducted his traditional countdown, and continued on with the tradition of kissing his wife, Kari Wigton, at midnight.[7][2]

History[edit][edit | edit source]

Before Rockin' Eve[edit][edit | edit source]

[1][2]Guy Lombardo was a fixture on New Year's Eve until his death in 1977.

Prior to the premiere of New Year's Rockin' Eve, the most well-known New Year's Eve program was the annual big band remote of bandleader Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, broadcast from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Guy Lombardo hosted 48 straight New Year's Eve broadcasts on CBS until his death in 1977, beginning on radio in 1928 (and for a period, splitting with NBC Radio following midnight ET), and on CBS Television from 1956 to 1976 (which also featured coverage of the ball drop in Times Square). Lombardo was also well known for his band's performance of the song "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight, which helped make the standard synonymous with the New Year's holiday in North America.[8][9][10]

Conception, premiere[edit][edit | edit source]

At the time, Dick Clark was well-known to viewers as the host of American Bandstand, a music series produced from the studios of Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) and broadcast by ABC (which itself aired a New Year's Eve special on December 31, 1959).[11]

In the 1970s, Clark felt that Guy Lombardo's New Year's specials were outdated and did not appeal well to younger viewers; he believed that only older viewers would be interested in big band music accompanied by "people dancing cheek-to-jowl in their tuxedos and funny hats."[10] In response, he decided to produce a more youthful New Year's Eve special of his own to compete. Clark's new program would be known as New Year's Rockin' Eve, a name chosen to signify the major contrast between his special and the more formal atmosphere of Guy Lombardo's special. The first edition, Three Dog Night's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1973, was aired by NBC on December 31, 1972 and was hosted by the members of the rock bandThree Dog Night. The special featured pre-recorded musical performances from the ballroom of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California by Blood, Sweat & TearsHelen ReddyAl Green, and Three Dog Night. Clark served as a reporter from Times Square for live coverage of the ball drop and arrival of 1973.[10][11][12][13] The second special, New Year's Rockin' Eve 1974, also on NBC, was hosted by comedian George Carlin and featured musical performances by The Pointer SistersBilly PrestonLinda Ronstadt and Tower of Power – once again pre-recorded on the Queen Mary.[14] Beginning with the 1975 edition, the program moved to ABC and Clark assumed hosting duties.[2][11][15]

Rise in popularity[edit][edit | edit source]

After Guy Lombardo's death in 1977, CBS and the Royal Canadians attempted to continue their New Year's Eve broadcasts from the Waldorf-Astoria for 1977–78. However, the effects of Lombardo's absence led to a decline in viewership, allowing New Year's Rockin' Eve to overtake the Royal Canadians in viewership in only its fifth year on-air. The threat of the new special also prompted CBS to drop the Royal Canadians entirely in 1979 in favor of a new special, Happy New Year, America, which premiered for New Year's Eve 1979–80. With its recent success, Clark began hoping that New Year's Rockin' Eve would become a television tradition of its own, lamenting that "Lombardo would always win [in New York] because of the Waldorf and 35 years of tradition, but we finally got it wrested."[16] Clark's hopes soon became reality, as New Year's Rockin' Eve had displaced Guy Lombardo as the most popular and most-watched New Year's Eve special on American television in the years following.[2][11][15]

The 1980 edition was co-hosted by Erin Moran and John Schneider of Happy Days and The Dukes of Hazzard respectively, and continued with Clark's goal to showcase acts that represented the previous year by featuring Barry ManilowBlondieChicThe Oak Ridge Boys, and the Village People as performers.[16] The 1988 edition was co-hosted by China Beach cast members Marg Helgenberger and Brian Wimmer from the Cocoanut Grove club at the Ambassador Hotel.[17] Mark Curry and Holly Robinson of the ABC sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper co-hosted for 1993–94, with segments at Walt Disney Worldfeaturing performances by acts such as Brooks and Dunn and Kiss, along with the marriage of two California firefighters, Laura Turpin and Bob Hutnyan.[18]

The 1994–95 edition was co-hosted with Margaret Cho and Steve Harvey, and included musical performances from Melissa EtheridgeHootie & the Blowfish and Salt-n-Pepa.[19]

The 1996–97 edition was co-hosted by Stacey Dash and Donald Faison of the ABC comedy series Clueless, and included performances by Jann Arden, Kiss, "Weird Al" YankovicThe Presidents of the United States of America, and The Tony Rich Project.[20] This edition also marked the 25th anniversary of New Year's Rockin' Eve; Clark marked this accomplishment by discussing the greatest challenges he had faced hosting the special; including being unable to hear his director over the loud crowds of Times Square, harsh weather conditions, and a year where the emcee had to contend with a group of 30 nude attendees in the background. Clark aimed to continue hosting the special through the year 2000.[21] Ultimately, Clark hosted the program through 2004.[2][11][15]

The popularity of New Year's Rockin' Eve also resulted in Clark making appearances on other television series to reference his role. In a Y2K-themed segment of The Simpsons' Halloween special "Treehouse of Horror X" entitled "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die", Clark made a cameo appearance hosting a New Year's Eve event in Springfield. The Y2K bug caused the emcee to melt, exposing him as arobot.[22] In an interview following the episode's airing with its writer, Ron Hauge, Clark said that the episode gave the "biggest response" he had ever gotten from anything he had ever done.[23] Clark made a further appearance during the pilot episode of fellow Matt Groening series Futurama, "Space Pilot 3000", where Clark's head (as preserved in a jar) is seen hosting a version of New Year's Rockin' Eveleading into the year 3000.[24] The special's legacy was also recognized in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, where footage of Clark from the first edition of New Year's Rockin' Eve is seen on a television at a bar during a scene of the film taking place on New Year's Eve.[25]

ABC 2000 Today, 2001 primetime expansion[edit][edit | edit source]

Main article: ABC 2000 Today[3][4]ABC News provided coverage from Times Square and other locations as part of its ABC 2000 Today special.

New Year's Rockin' Eve was temporarily placed on hiatus for New Year's Eve 1999–2000. Instead, Clark participated in ABC News's day-long telecast, ABC 2000 Today, which as a part of an international broadcast consortium, televised festivities from around the world celebrating the arrival of the year 2000. Clark joined hostPeter Jennings and ABC News reporter Jack Ford as correspondents for the festivities from Times Square. Clark took on a similar role on ABC 2000 Today as he did on New Year's Rockin' Eve, including conducting his traditional countdown alongside Ford at midnight on the East Coast. However, unlike New Year's Rockin' Eve, festivities from Times Square were also broadcast live across the entire country instead of tape-delayed for the West Coast, since the special broadcast midnight festivities in other cities and time zones for the remainder of the night, as they had done throughout the day.[26]

Clark, Ford, and Jennings were among a total of more than 1,000 members of the ABC News division that were part of the broadcast. They were all under the direction of ABC's Roger Goodman.[27] The ABC 2000 Today telecast overall also received a Peabody Award.[28] Reflecting on the event, Clark was enthusiastic about his participation, feeling that New Year's Eve 2000 was one of the biggest nights he had ever spent in Times Square.[3]

New Year's Rockin' Eve returned to ABC the following New Year's Eve for the arrival of 2001. The 2000–01 edition also introduced a new primetime hour at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, which featured additional segments and music performances to lead into the main program. Clark felt positive about the program's expansion into primetime – believing that viewers, no matter where they were, wanted to know what was going on in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Clark was joined by Fox & Friends anchor Steve Doocy, and Michelle Madison as reporters in Times Square. Comedian Wayne Brady hosted concert segments in Hollywood, which included performances by LonestarBoyz II Men98 DegreesBaha Men, and Third Eye Blind among others.[3]

The 2002 edition of New Year's Rockin' Eve, its 30th edition, featured pre-recorded performances from tours by AerosmithDestiny's Child, and Elton John during the primetime hour, followed by studio segments (again hosted by Wayne Brady) featuring performances by Blink-182BushBusta RhymesJessica SimpsonLFOThe O'Jays, and Pink. The primetime hour of New Year's Rockin' Eve 2002was also preceded by ABC 2002, a follow-up to the ABC 2000 special, hosted by Peter Jennings from the Rose Center for Earth and Space. The two-hour special featured a "meaningful and reflective" view on New Year's celebrations from around the world, and also included performances by Arlo GuthrieSting, and U2.[29] Clark personally felt that 2002, since it was the first in the wake of the September 11 attacks, was the most "nerve-racking" New Year's Eve he had ever experienced.[11]

Dick Clark's stroke, effects on Rockin' Eve[edit][edit | edit source]

[5][6]Regis Philbin filled in for Dick Clark during New Year's Rockin' Eve 2005.

On December 6, 2004, it was reported that Clark had been hospitalized after suffering from a minor stroke. Despite Clark indicating his participation in New Year's Rockin' Eve 2005 in a prepared statement, reports soon surfaced that the stroke may have been serious enough to prevent him from hosting at all.[30] It was officially announced on December 14 that Dick Clark would not be hosting, and that Regis Philbin would fill in for Clark. In a statement, Clark said that he was thankful that Philbin was able to quickly step in on short notice to host the show, and hoped that he would do a good job. Philbin was optimistic about his role, considering it "[the] best temp job ever."[15]

Various personalities paid tribute to Clark throughout the night on New Year's Eve; the New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast featured special celebrity messages for Clark, and revelers in Times Square were seen with signs saluting Clark. During CNN's coverage, revelers in Times Square told CNN's Jason Carroll that Philbin was "all right" filling in for Clark (but still had Anderson Cooper and Carroll too).[31] Mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke with Philbin on Clark's absence during the show, noting that "it isn't that we don't like Regis, but we want [Clark] back next year."[32] Philbin's hosting received mixed reviews: Richard Huff of the New York Daily News noted that Philbin's hosting was "stiff" at first, and suggested that he would have performed better if he had a co-host to interact with like his daytime talk show. In conclusion, he considered Philbin's performance to be "suitable – although not spectacular."[32] Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times believed that Philbin was feeling "surprisingly nervous" in his role at host, and felt that "rowdy crowds" (which Philbin chose to avoid by staying in the studio) and the success of Rod Stewart's career (which Philbin pounced on to promote his new album, "When You're Smiling") were bothering him.[33]

Dick Clark's return[edit][edit | edit source]

[7][8]Ryan Seacrest joined New Year's Rockin' Eve as a co-host beginning on its 2006 edition.

In August 2005, ABC announced that Dick Clark would return to the show for its 2006 edition, marking his first television appearance since the stroke. For that broadcast, it was also announced Clark would also be joined by a new co-host, media personality and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest himself had hosted a competing New Year's Eve special for Fox the year prior.[34][35] In an interview with People Magazine in December 2005, Seacrest revealed that while Clark had not completely recovered from the stroke, and that his speech was not exactly like how it was beforehand, Clark had made great progress since the original diagnosis.[36] As a part of a long-term deal with Dick Clark Productions, Seacrest also became an executive producer for the special.[34]

Alongside pre-recorded performances from Hollywood hosted by actress and pop singer Hilary Duff, the 2006 edition also featured a live performance by Mariah Carey directly inside Times Square – the first such performance in the show's history. Live performances from Times Square became a regular feature during future editions of New Year's Rockin' Eve.[7][5][37]

During the program, Clark made limited on-air appearances, but still conducted his traditional countdown, and also recollected on his recent experiences:

Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there.[38]

Public curiosity over Clark's condition and his return to television helped Dick Clark's 'New Year's Rockin' Eve 2006 draw in over 20 million viewers throughout the night, and score a 7.1 audience share among the key demographic of 18–49 year-olds.[39] Reaction to Clark's appearance was mixed. While some TV critics (including Tom Shales of The Washington Post, in an interview with the CBS Radio Network) felt he was not in good enough shape to do the broadcast, stroke survivors and many of Clark's fans praised the emcee for being a role model for people dealing with post-stroke recovery.[40] The New York Times' Brian Stelter compared Seacrest's new role on Rockin' Eve to being like a "traffic cop", "tossing to bands and correspondents and to Mr. Clark for the countdown." [2]

Ryan Seacrest becomes co-host[edit][edit | edit source]

Following the 2006 edition, Dick Clark Productions announced that Seacrest had agreed to remain a co-host for future editions of New Year's Rockin' Eve.[39] As he was still afflicted with speech impediments that resulted from dysarthria, a lingering effect of his stroke, Clark continued to only make limited appearances during the broadcast (which included short segments around midnight, and his traditional countdown to the New Year at midnight), while Seacrest hosted the majority of the program outside in Times Square.[2]

The 2008 edition featured live performances from Times Square by Carrie UnderwoodMiley Cyrus, and the Jonas BrothersFergie hosted concert segments from Hollywood, which also featured performances by AkonNatasha BedingfieldSean KingstonOneRepublicPlain White T'sTaylor Swift and will.i.am.[41] Seacrest's increased role as host was recognized beginning on the 2009 edition, where the special was officially re-titled Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.[2] It featured live performances by the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, and Lionel Richie, with Kellie Picklerserving as a correspondent. Hollywood segments featured performances by Fall Out BoyJesse McCartney, Natasha Bedingfield, Ne-YoThe Pussycat DollsSolangeRobin Thicke and will.i.am.[42]

For its 2010 edition, performances in Times Square included Daughtry and Jennifer Lopez (who infamously wore a dark-colored catsuit for her performance to mixed reviews),[43] while Good Morning America'Melissa Rycroft served as a correspondent. Fergie hosted concert segments on-location from Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring performances by her group The Black Eyed PeasColbie Caillat, Robin Thicke, Keri HilsonSelena GomezJustin BieberDavid Guetta, and Orianthi.[44] American Idol season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert was also reportedly scheduled to perform, but was dropped from bothRockin' Eve and a scheduled appearance on fellow ABC program Jimmy Kimmel Live! in response to his controversial performance at the American Music Awards. Neither ABC nor Dick Clark Productions ever confirmed whether or not Lambert had been booked at all, however.[45]

The 2011 edition featured live performances by Kesha and Taio Cruz, and actress Jenny McCarthy served as a reporter from Times Square. Fergie reprised her role as host for the pre-recorded Hollywood segments,[46] which included performances by Avril Lavigne (who performed the world premiere of her newest single "What The Hell"),[47] Natasha Bedingfield (who performed her latest single "Strip Me"),Jennifer Hudson, Ne-Yo, TrainMike PosnerWillow SmithJason DerüloFar East MovementLa Roux, Kesha, Drake, and closing the show, the supergroup NKOTBSB (the combined Backstreet Boys andNew Kids on the Block).[46] Viewership for the 2011 edition peaked at around 19 million viewers.[2]

40th anniversary[edit][edit | edit source]

[9][10]Seacrest (left) and Clark on the set of New Year's Rockin' Eve 2012. The 2012 edition marked Dick Clark's final appearance on the program before his death on April 18, 2012.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2012, was once again hosted by Seacrest, with Clark co-hosting what would become his final appearance on the program. Fergie co-hosted for the sixth consecutive year for the pre-taped Hollywood segments, while comedian Jenny McCarthy returned for her second year corresponding from Times Square.[48] Musical guests in Times Square included Lady Gaga (who also joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg in activating the ball drop), Justin Bieber, Pitbull and Hot Chelle Rae.[48] Performers in the Hollywood segments included Taio Cruz, Nicki Minaj, Blink-182, Florence + the MachineLMFAOGym Class Heroes, OneRepublic, The Band Perry, will.i.am, Christina Perri,[48] and Robin Thicke.[2] To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first edition of New Year's Rockin' Eve, the primetime portion of the show was preceded by a two-hour retrospective special focusing on memorable music performances from the show's 40-year history.[2]

New Year's Rockin' Eve 2012 brought ABC's highest ratings on New Year's Eve since ABC 2000 Today; an average 8.4 million viewers watched the 40th anniversary retrospective, the primetime hour brought in 12.9 million viewers, and the first hour of the main broadcast peaked at 22.6 million viewers. These numbers exclude viewership from locations such as bars and New Year's Eve parties, as they are not counted in the Nielsen ratings.[1]

Death of Dick Clark; following editions[edit][edit | edit source]

On April 18, 2012, Dick Clark died after suffering a heart attack following surgery to fix an enlarged prostate.[49][50] Following Clark's death, ABC declined to comment on future New Year's coverage, nor did Dick Clark Productions comment on the future of the franchise.[49]

In August 2012, ABC confirmed via a press release that New Year's Rockin' Eve would return for its 2012–13 edition.[51] Ryan Seacrest, Jenny McCarthy and Fergie reprised their roles as host, Times Square reporter and Hollywood host, respectively. Carly Rae JepsenNeon TreesPsy with MC Hammer, and Taylor Swift performed live in Times Square, while the Hollywood segments of the show included performances by BrandyFlo RidaEllie GouldingJason Aldean, Justin Bieber, Karmin, OneRepublic, Pitbull and The Wanted.[52][53][54] The primetime hour of the program was preceded by a two-hour tribute special, New Year's Rockin' Eve Celebrates Dick Clark.[55] Clark's legacy was also recognized by the Times Square Alliance, organizers of the ball drop: a triangular Waterford Crystal panel engraved with Dick Clark's name was presented to his widow Kari Wigton, and installed on the ball.[5][56]

On October 23, 2013, Dick Clark Productions confirmed the 2013–14 edition of New Year's Rockin' Eve, and announced that Ryan Seacrest had signed a multi-year deal of unspecified length to continue serving as host and executive producer of the special. Seacrest stated that he would "forever be both sentimental and grateful" about his involvement in the special, and that he was "excited to work together to create new traditions and fun moments on the show that only live television can deliver." Fellow producer Allen Shapiro credited Seacrest's involvement in New Year's Rockin' Eve for its "extended and expanded" success.[57][58] Fergie and McCarthy reprised their roles once again, and the primetime portion of the program was preceded by a two-hour special, New Year's Rockin' Eve Presents the 30 Greatest Women in Music. The Hollywood segments included performances by Ariana GrandeCapital Cities, Daughtry, Fall Out Boy, The FrayEnrique Iglesias, Jason Derülo, Jennifer Hudson, and Robin Thicke.[6][59] BlondieIcona PopMacklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Miley Cyrus performed in Times Square,[60][61] and the special also featured a performance by Billy Joel, broadcast live from Barclays Center[62]And Pitbull performed in Miami Florida. In Canada, the 2013–14 edition was simulcast for first time by City, replacing its coverage of concert festivities at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square (the network continued to sponsor the festivities, however).[63][64] While viewership was down by 5%, New Year's Rockin' Eve was still the highest-rated among the New Year's specials.[65]

On February 7, 2014, ABC reached a long-term deal with Dick Clark Productions to maintain both New Year’s Rockin Eve and the American Music Awards on the network through the end of 2023.

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