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Mariah Carey ‘Deserves a Second Chance,’ Say ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ Hosts Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy

New Year’s Eve in Times Square will be picking up right where America left off last year on Dec. 31 when Mariah Carey takes the stage to perform a medley of hits, including “Hero.” She’s part of the music-heavy lineup for ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”

As far as hosts Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy are concerned, inviting the vocal powerhouse back for a do-over after last year’s disaster is an appropriate way to close the book on 2017 and start 2018 anew in line with the theme of this year’s telecast: “Unity.”

“One of the most exciting news stories about New Year’s Eve is giving Mariah Carey that second chance that I think everybody deserves,” McCarthy tells Variety. “The theme this year is ‘Unity.’ I had a moment saying, what do I want my New Year’s Resolution to be, and then I thought about the second chance that we are giving Mariah and I thought that is a really good thing to be an example of on this TV show and carry it forward. I am cheering her on and hoping that she nails it and I think she will.”

McCarthy added that the hopeful theme of Unity is the exact thing needed after a tumultuous 2017 of negativity, and a chance to maybe see some good from the year highlighted as the live telecast ushers in a fresh start.

“Even though a lot of people say, ‘God I can’t wait for 2017 to be over’, there are so many good things that came out of it. Good stories get overshadowed by our anger at the administration or who is not taking a knee and who is standing up,” the SiriusXM host, now in her eighth year in Times Square, says. “I am really looking at 2018 as a time for all of those things to balance out and we can listen to one another. When they told me the theme was Unity, I said God I hope we really celebrate that tonight to introduce it for the next year and say come on you guys, it’s time to listen.”

Adds Seacrest, who is back for his 13th year hosting the program: “We always say when we stop talking at midnight, and you watch the atmosphere and you see the energy and feel the vibrations of Times Square, the one word to describe that moment is unity. I think it would be great to continue throughout the year to have more of that feeling.”

Seacrest added that the timing for the New York lineup — which includes the reunited Sugarland, Camila Cabello, and Nick Jonas — couldn’t be better, as all three have big years ahead of them.

“The timing is really perfect. Nick Jonas has that Golden Globe nomination (for “Home,” from the movie “Ferdinand”) and Camila Cabello has the No. 1 song in the country-five weeks running now. Sugarland is back together. … Then, to have legendary female stars — Mariah and then Britney within a few minutes of each other and Kelly Clarkson in Hollywood … Makes for an amazing night.”

In addition, Lucy Hale will return to host live from New Orleans, this time with Imagine Dragons and Walk the Moon performing, while Seacrest and McCarthy will be joined by Ciara for the Hollywood party. The West Coast broadcast, much of which was pre-taped around the American Music Awards, includes performances by Kelly Clarkson, Kane Brown, Portugal, the Man, BTS, Khalid, Marshmello, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Fitz & the Tantrums, Alessia Cara, Alesso, Florida Georgia Line, G-Eazy, Halsey, Bebe Rexha, Hailee Steinfeld, watt and Zedd. Ciara will be taking over for longtime host Fergie, who is set to host the Fox show “The Four,” premiering in January.

“I spoke to Fergie last week and she is doing great and focused on that show and we wish her the best,” says Seacrest. “Ciara is amazing. So talented.”

Adds McCarthy: “She fits in.”

Seacrest says the excitement level is amped this year by the inclusion of Korean Pop band BTS in the lineup.

“I had BTS on my KIIS-FM radio show, and the phone lines were blinking from 2 a.m. in the morning — and they weren’t arriving until 8 in the morning — solid from fans that wanted to speak to them,” he says. “We are excited to have that performance.”

Seacrest arrived at the press junket straight from his gig on “Good Morning America” to take in the famed Waterford Crystal Ball at One Times Square before it’s dropped at midnight.

“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” kicks off on Sunday, December 31 at 8 p.m. EST.

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