New Year’s Eve will be warmer and wetter than last year’s festivities in New York City, but hosts Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy are prepared for all conditions as they get ready to take center stage in Times Square. ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” airs on Dec. 31 live starting at 8 p.m. east coast time.
“The theme last year was ‘Frozen,’ the theme this year is a little more mild, but wet,” Seacrest tells Variety. “So we will be thinking about precipitation and survival throughout the course of the night as we always do.”
This year marks the 47th anniversary of the annual celebration in Times Square and the lineup will feature a diverse slate of performers, including country duo Dan + Shay, Bastille, New Kids on the Block and Christina Aguilera, who is returning to the Times Square stage for a second time since last appearing in 2007 to perform a medley of hits right before the ball drops at midnight.
NKOTB is also coming back to the stage for an encore, having last performed in 2010 with The Backstreet Boys. McCarthy remembers it well — it was her first time hosting NYE and she got a thrill when future husband Donnie Wahlberg called to her as he was going to the stage to be interviewed by Seacrest, yelling “Hey, Jenny McCarthy!”
“There has been a buzz in my house, because the first year I hosted he performed… and that was the first time we met,” she says. “It’s so sweet that he is performing again, and I still get to kiss him at midnight this year.”
The rest of the lineup in Hollywood, hosted by Ciara, includes Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Bazzi, Kane Brown, Camila Cabello, The Chainsmokers, Ciara, Foster the People, Halsey, Dua Lipa, Ella Mai, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth and Weezer, as well as collaborations from Macklemore with Skylar Grey and The Chainsmokers featuring Kelsea Ballerini. Airing just after midnight, Post Malone will perform from Brooklyn, New York, while in the Central time zone , Lucy Hale will host performances from Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris.
Says Seacrest: “The list of artists that have had a successful 2018 is a long list. Post Malone is the biggest of all-time this year — and he’s on the show.”
As for 2019 resolutions, McCarthy is focused on “self-care” while Seacrest is enjoying a new milestone celebrating the birth of his niece. “I just realized we have the first baby in our family — my sister’s baby — and, [while] I’m pretty comfortable on TV and in those settings, I’m nervous holding this baby,” Seacrest confesses. “So I’m going to go into uncle training and learn how to sing nursery rhymes, read stories, hold a baby, and look relaxed.”
Asked if there are any new bells and whistles this year, McCarthy says the excitement and surprises that happen every year with live television are always provided during the show, either from the crowd with proposals, interactions with Seacrest or the performers themselves with “buzz worthy moments.”
Seacrest says he is looking forward to featuring the best “YouTube” moments of 2018, since YouTube is on board this year as a sponsor.
Now in his 14th year as host and McCarthy’s ninth tour of duty in Times Square, it begs the question — does it ever get old?
“Never,” says McCarthy. “It’s one of those things I look forward to every single year. I do say a little prayer after last year’s temperature, it was really, really difficult. It really tested our strengths, I will say it’s a bucket list experience. Even though I’ve done it before, every single year, it’s just a high.”
Adds Seacrest: “I like it because it jumpstarts the fitness and diet program. If we were off this week again for the holidays, then I would still be getting sausage Bisquick and cheese.”