In 40 years of countdowns and party favors, much has changed in how we celebrate New Year’s Eve.
In the beginning, the iconic ball dropped in Times Square hosted a mere 100 25-watt bulbs, a bit dimmer than today’s 22,000 LED lights embedded in Waterford Crystal.
When Dick Clark launched his first “New Years Rockin’ Eve” in 1972, the band Blood, Sweat and Tears was the headliner. The show was created to be a hipper answer to CBS’s annual broadcast of Guy Lombardo’s live orchestra performing from the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
Clark’s show soon became an established tradition, and this Saturday night will be another snapshot of popular sound and fashion as 2011 turns over to 2012. ‘Rockin’ Eve’ co-host Ryan Seacrest granted “Nightline” a sneak preview of what’s to come, and said Clark would make an appearance again this year.
“I looked forward to seeing him every year and I was always impressed with how he could make you feel so comfortable,” Seacrest told “Nightline” anchor Bill Weir. “You’d watch at home and you’d feel like you were part of the party and he was just talking to you. That’s one of his amazing talents.”
Seacrest was brought onto the program after Clark, now 82, suffered a stroke seven years ago that impaired his speech and changed his beloved broadcast.
“[Clark] is doing good. He’s excited about this year. He gets excited every year. He looks forward to being on the air,” Seacrest said. “He still runs the show. He’ll make as many appearances as he wants, and I kind of just stand there and take the ball when he passes it.”
The 37-year-old host said he has fond memories of watching Clark’s special at home when he was growing up.
“I remember as a kid standing in my living room with a pizza. Mom would leave 10 bucks on the table, order pizza with the babysitter and I was allowed to stay up and watch Dick Clark with the headset and the microphone and the big ABC logo,” Seacrest said.
These days, most of Hollywood works for Seacrest. In addition to his hosting deals with the ever popular “American Idol” and the E! Channel — he created all four Kardashian shows, including “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” — his national radio presence has him plugged in to the biggest musical acts of today, which makes for a big New Year’s night.
Seacrest said this year’s show includes rapper PitBull, Justin Bieber, guitar master Carlos Santana and the final mega act — Lady Gaga. Seacrest claimed they didn’t know much about what the Pop princess, known for her outrageous costumes and bizarre entrances, will do.
“You know what’s great about Lady Gaga. This is true. With some artists you know exactly what their plan is before they go on the air. With Gaga she always wants to keep you guessing,” he said. “We know the time she’s got. She’s got about six-and-a-half minutes to fill but what she does with it is up to her.”
As for who Seacrest will kiss when the clock strikes midnight, he said his girlfriend, 22-year-old professional dancer Julianne Hough.
“I won’t get to kiss her until about 12:04 or :05 because I do it during commercial break,” he said.
When asked about his New Year’s resolution, Seacrest, who seems to constantly have a hand in everything entertainment, said he hopes to slow down a bit in 2012.
“I’m always planning the next thing whether it be standing up at work thinking about the next thing, sitting at lunch thinking about dinner, I’m always trying too hard to plan ahead and I believe the resolution this year would be to be a little more present in a moment and enjoy where you are for a second without planning the next one,” Seacrest said.