Hale is an NYC first-timer, after hosting in New Orleans since 2016. Billy Porter will take over her role as New Orleans host, while Ciara will ring in 2020 from Los Angeles. Seacrest and Hale will begin their broadcast live from Times Square at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
The two reunite onscreen for the first time since a then-14-year-old Hale sang on American Juniors, which Seacrest hosted. This year’s broadcast will feature performances from 2019’s hottest artists, including BTS, Post Malone and Sam Hunt.
Billboard caught up with the hosting duo on Sunday to see what we can expect from the last night of 2019.
This is your 15th year doing this, Ryan, but Lucy it’s your first in New York.
Lucy Hale: Fourth total, but first in New York!
What has it been like to transition from the correspondent gig to this one?
Hale: Well, we rehearsed yesterday, and it went really well. It’s going to be about five times as many people. More than that — 10 times as many people [than in New Orleans]. But I think the last few years has really prepped me for everything that goes on behind the scenes, and Ryan has been super welcoming, so I’m feeling confident right now.
Ryan Seacrest: She had all of the elements attack her the first couple years in New Orleans, with monsoon-like rain and technical things.
Hale: Our building fire alarm went off, like, 30 minutes before.
Seacrest: We always plan those things in the first couple years.
Hale: It was my hazing period. So I’m feeling good. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow super nervous. But I’m excited.
Since things can go wrong all the time, how do you prepare for these things for a live show?
Seacrest: When you do a show like this, of this scale, it’s outside, it’s got stages over five blocks, you know things aren’t going to go perfectly, but that becomes a character in the show. We’ve had artists who didn’t do exactly what we thought they were gonna do, but it becomes a moment. Christina [Aguilera] was out in the pouring rain last year. She didn’t expect that, but it becomes part of the narrative of the show.
Hale: That’s why people like live TV, because nobody knows what’s gonna happen. It keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Who are you most excited to see perform?
Seacrest: [Lucy] is friends with everyone. She’s like “my friend is here!”
Hale: I’m really excited to see Alanis Morissette. I’ll be on the other end, but I’ll be able to hear her. That was my first album I was super obsessed with, Jagged Little Pill. And I love Sam Hunt!
Seacrest: I feel like I have played Post Malone songs every 15 minutes this year, which is awesome, so the fact that he’s going to be with us in Times Square, and might be my first hug of 2020, makes me happy.
Hale: How do you beat that?
Seacrest: You can’t. The first hug of 2020 for Post might be us! The way the show has grown, it covers so many different areas now. We’ll be in New Orleans with Billy Porter with Sheryl Crow and Usher. And the other cool thing is that the Jonas Brothers are gonna be at their show in Miami. They are gonna stop the show and wait for us to come in live after the new year.
So you two have worked together before, on American Juniors in 2003.
Do you remember that experience very well?
Hale: I remember it vividly. It was my first time in LA. It was my first experience doing what I’m doing, and I definitely remember how excited I was to meet Ryan. Never in my wildest dreams did I think 16 years later I’d be hosting this show.
Seacrest: She’s a great performer. She can do everything well. She was so comfortable onstage. You were 12?
Hale: I was 14. ?
Seacrest. She was 14, and just totally cool, calm and collected. The things we commented about after watching the clip was the fashion. [My hair] was flat ironed. I went back and checked. It was flat iron and hairspray.
Hale: At the time, that was a solid 8.
Seacrest: We were on trend.
Hale: But we glowed up, for sure.
That’s great you shared that moment.
Hale: My mom is just over the moon over me doing this.
Does your family come out and watch?
Hale: She’s not. I told them to stay home. It’s chaotic.
Seacrest: My family is over me. They see me in too many places too often. I’m on too much. My family has come before, they loved it. But now what my mom and dad do is order this Italian food, they sit in front of the TV and watch the whole show start to finish. And texts come to me, as if I can respond, so I have a lot of them I have to respond to.
Do they critique you?
Seacrest: They don’t critique, although my mother has said, “Your tie is crooked” or something like that.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you had the American Idol desk and you were going to make it into a bar… did that ever happen?
Hale: That’s a good idea!
Seacrest: I haven’t done it yet! But someday, I am going to make a bar.
dick clark productions, producer of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, is owned by Valence Media, which also owns Billboard.