Ryan Seacrest broadcasting live from the wet streets of New York City
On New Year's Eve, there are three kinds of people: revelers who brave the crowds, folks who prefer to stay in, and workers, like the team that has brought ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve to life since 1972.
"Dick was a product of the Guy Lombardo era. He was doing American Bandstand at the time and wondered, ‘Why aren’t we doing New Year’s with contemporary music for a contemporary audience?’ It was a youthful twist on how New Year’s was being celebrated. We’re keepers of an American legacy,” says writer-producer Barry Adelman of the annual telecast, now dubbed Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
A fixture with the show for thirty-plus years, Adelman has colleagues who’ve worked on it more than forty years. The entire crew, including current host Seacrest, is dedicated to that legacy.
“Growing up, the show was a tradition for me and my family; we would always order pizza and watch,” Seacrest recalls. “Getting to work with one of my heroes, and continuing with the celebration year after year, is one of my greatest joys. We get to bring the excitement, the energy and the new year to people who don’t want to go anywhere, who just want to relax. That’s what Dick told me all along. He would say, ‘We’re talking to people who are at home, but we bring the excitement to them through our show.’”
While the show is tightly scheduled all night, “Once we get to about 11:40 p.m., it is scheduled down to the nanosecond," Seacrest says. The production has grown to include different cities and time zones, and occasional delays mean the need to fill time. Technical glitches and extreme weather also cause problems, so the team prepares for every possible scenario.
"Over the years, we've gotten smarter. We always make sure to have my tuxedoes and shoes in different sizes in case we have to stuff them with warmers," Seacrest says. "[Last year] it was downpouring. Not only does weather affect comfort, but the team is trying to make sure all the technical elements stay working, as it's always a rush."
"We're all adrenaline junkies," Adelman adds. "When you're doing a live show, especially something like New Year's Rockin' Eve, all your senses are completely alive and heightened. You're at your most adept, because your mind and body are set to handle anything that might happen."
Despite the crowds, the on-site team seldom encounters bad vibes. "When that ball drops and they say, 'Happy New Year!', the confetti starts dropping and they play 'Auld Lang Syne.' You have a million people all in a good mood, saying goodbye to the old year and hello to the new year," Adelman says. "It makes you believe in positive energy."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #12, 2023 under the title, "In with the New."