For the 13th consecutive year, Ryan Seacrest will be ringing in the New Year from Times Square live on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Seacrest will be joined by Jenny McCarthy, who is back for her eighth year as co-host.
This year’s broadcast features a star-studded lineup of musical guests from all over the country, including Camila Cabello, BTS, Kelly Clarkson and, after some apparent technical problems last year, Mariah Carey is back to reclaim to stage.
Billboard spoke to Seacrest and McCarthy about what fans can expect from the New Year’s Eve performance, a preview into the next season of American Idol, and how they stay warm in the frigid December temps.
So, obviously a big performer this year is BTS. What do you think they’re going to bring to this night?
Jenny McCarthy: He just introduced me to them. I represent the people, the audience that goes, “Who are they?” And learning about them… [Ryan] was telling me on his radio show, the phone lines blew up and they are such a huge sensation.
Ryan Seacrest: Massive, I mean they’re really big with young people and teens, and I was talking to them a couple weeks ago, their goal is to sell out arenas in America this year. And I think they are on their way to do that.
Who are you most excited to see perform on New Year’s Eve?
McCarthy: Kelly Clarkson in Hollywood, for sure. I’ve gotten a chance to know Kelly — and not only is she, to me, one of the best singers out there, like a real singer, but she’s so down to earth and cool and real. And of course Britney Spears in Vegas, come on! And then Mariah Carey is really going to be the talk of the night, I think.
What do you guys think about Mariah coming back this year?
Seacrest: We’re excited that she’s coming back. It’s actually the perfect thing to do this year, because you don’t want last year to be the memory, because it wasn’t what everybody wanted to have happen. So the fact that she will come back, and we’ve seen her do this a 100 times, she’ll be amazing, I think the big factor this year is that it’s gonna be so much colder than years past.
Seacrest: It’s not going to be easy for anyone to do anything outside.
McCarthy: Let alone Mariah!
Seacrest: Or us. I mean, we will struggle with the cold.
McCarthy: We will struggle, but I do think that the whole concept of giving someone a second chance like Mariah, who got, you know, really beat up in the press, for Dick Clark productions to say “come on back” you know, give it a second try… I think it’s wonderful.
It’s obviously going to be freezing, which might cause some behind the scenes qualms. Do you have any stories from past years of you guys behind the scenes?
Seacrest: I’m leaning to Jenny just in terms of the cold, to tell me what to wear. She’s lived in Chicago for a long time. I’ve lived in New York just for eight months.
McCarthy: It’s just about layering, and those heat pads that you tape on yourself. That’s it.
Seacrest: I’ve never done the taping of the heat pads, but I think this year I need to do that.
McCarthy: It’s just the heat pads, you put them on your back and they make the world of difference.
Seacrest: Our advice to people — well, sure, come out and see it. But if you’re not in New York, or near New York City, then you it’s just fine. You can be warm on your couch, having bean dip, watching.
McCarthy: Yeah, watch us. We’re okay with you watching it form home.
American Idol is coming back. How are you prepping for it, Ryan?
Seacrest: Well, we started the auditions — we’ve done the auditions, actually. And we’ve invited a bunch of the men and women back to Hollywood for the Hollywood rounds. So the auditions are done, we’ve seen the talent, it’s great. There’s some “rough diamonds” out there, and we’re feeling good about that. We star in March and… I miss it. I’m glad it’s coming back.
MCarthy: Do you still keep the substance of the people who are terrible?
Seacrest: The tone shifted a little bit. I think there was more of that, in a different way, back when we started. But when you just said “keep” I was just thinking… one of the things I got the keep form the old show… they sent me the desk. So in my house I have the Idol original judges desk.
McCarthy: No you don’t.
Seacrest: Yeah! It’s so cool, I’m gonna make it a bar.
McCarthy: I’m so jealous. That’s genius.
Do you just sit there and eat?
Seacrest: I sit there and I host and judge. That’s how I rehearse. I read a book, say my prayers, and then I host the show. I’m gonna make it like a cocktail bar.
They got a new desk for the show?
Seacrest: There’s a new desk, yes.
How is the dynamic between these judges?
Seacrest: It’s so good. You know, they all are superstars, legends — Lionel Richie, you know, this guy was the Commodores, he’s worked with Sinatra, all the iconic legendary artists. And then [Katy Perry], is… she’s got more hits than anyone. And [Luke Bryan] is such a cool, laid-back guy. They’re all coming form a different point of view, but a great point of view so it works well together.
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. American Idol premieres in March on ABC.