The show must go on … but not every New Year’s Eve broadcast has gone smoothly for Ryan Seacrest.
“We have three live countdowns in this show, which I never thought was even possible when I first started,” Seacrest exclusively told Us Weekly in December 2022. “But we’ve got [broadcasts in] Puerto Rico, Times Square and New Orleans, and we’ve also added another party on the West Coast. It’ll be L.A. as we always have a Disneyland [portion].”
Seacrest has helmed Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve since 2005, succeeding Clark himself. (Clark died in 2012.)
“I was a kid watching this show, watching other people do the things that I get a chance to do every day. Wanting to do it,” the American Idol host added to Us in 2022 of taking over the reins. “And I feel like I’ve gotta prove that I’m worthy [of] doing it every single time. I think that is part of what keeps it exciting for me too.”
While Seacrest has become one of the top New Year’s Eve broadcasters, he’s not the only one ringing in the new year live from Times Square in New York City. Fellow TV hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper emcee CNN’s programming just a few “blocks away.”
Cohen has frequently gone toe-to-toe on air with Seacrest’s Rockin’ Eve — but it is all in jest. “[We are] trying to have a good time and convey that sort of fun,” Seacrest stressed to Us. “[Andy is] a really good friend.”
Count down Seacrest’s most memorable — and dramatic — moments from Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve through the years:
Jenny McCarthy joined Seacrest’s Rockin’ Eve team in New York, starting a new tradition where she kissed a handsome stranger in the crowd when the clock turned midnight. McCarthy continued her tradition until she married Donnie Wahlberg in 2014. Since then, Wahlberg’s been her designated midnight kiss.
After Taylor Swift performed during the live show, Seacrest gallantly let her borrow his jacket. Swift, however, wasn’t sure what the host was doing. “Are you stripping? This is a family show. This is inappropriate,” she quipped at the time.
Seacrest later told Us that lending Swift his coat caused technical issues.
“When I was with Taylor Swift one year, it was cold, so I gave her my coat after she’d just performed and I realized all of my communication equipment was attached to it,” he said in 2022. “So, I couldn’t really communicate with anybody in the production, which I didn’t think about prior.”
The next year, Seacrest got “stuck in an elevator” when he was trying to make his way up the legendary New Year’s ball.
“That was a little stressful because they tell you to remain calm and it’s almost impossible,” he recalled to Us in 2022. “There are [also other] things that happen along the way that come together in the final seconds. [For example], performers who are not ready, but we try to make things up to say in the interim so that it looks like we’re on schedule.”
Mariah Carey closed out Rockin Eve with a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” and a medley of her biggest hits. She strutted around the stage before stopping, taking out her earpiece and retorted, “I’m trying to be a good sport here.” Carey later alleged that there were technical issues.
Seacrest denied that Carey had been set up to fail.
“When it was happening, it was hard for me to see and hear because we’re in Times Square and there was a lot going on,” he said on Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live in January 2017. “I had to be told that something was going on and then try to find a monitor to react to. So I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, actually.”
He added at the time: “That crew, that team, that staff is the best in the business. They put on the biggest live music events and they know what they’re doing. I know how good they are at their jobs. My reaction was, ‘She was working with the best.’ I find it hard to believe they made big mistakes that bad.”
Seacrest welcomed Post Malone as a special guest, later speculating that that rapper had been overserved.
“Probably quite a few [stars have been drunk on the show]. I think Post Malone was definitely enjoying himself before he went out,” Seacrest theorized to Entertainment Weekly in December 2022. “But it’s amazing, artists can still hit their marks, they can do their songs while drinking.”
When Cyndi Lauper performed a medley of her biggest hits, she left fans thoroughly confused after her glam team ran on stage to remove her scarf.
“I’m on camera, I’m on camera,” Lauper insisted.
Later that night, Jennifer Lopez also took the Rockin’ Eve stage to perform. Dressed in a silver jumpsuit, Lopez notably completed a knee slide at the end of her set but had too much power and ran into the camera.
Cohen and Seacrest’s New Year’s feud began in December 2021 when a drunken Cohen called out Seacrest.
“If you look behind me, you’ll see Ryan Seacrest’s group of losers performing. I’m sorry but if you’re watching ABC, you’re watching nothing,” Cohen quipped of the Rockin Eve broadcast.
Cohen has since apologized for his remarks with CNN barring him and Cooper from drinking on air.
The next year, Seacrest claimed that Cohen purposely ignored him during the show.
“It was funny because my big stage was right in front of Anderson and Andy,” Seacrest said during a January 2023 episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan. “When I was not working, I was trying to get their attention. … I just wanted to wave and say high. They have a great show. And Anderson, [is] the best. He turns around and he says, ‘Have a good show.’ Very nice. Andy did not turn around.”
Cohen later asserted that he did not see Seacrest, saying he “would have” waved back if he had noticed an interaction between Seacrest and Cooper.