Ringing in the New Year with Ryan Seacrest

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It’s difficult to fathom Ryan Seacrest's schedule. In addition to breaking the bad news to failed American Idols and trading barbs with Simon Cowell, he seems to be the heir apparent to Dick Clark as America’s go-to New Year's Eve TV host. He manages the morning commute with the nationally syndicated On Air with Ryan Seacrest, announces America's Top 40, delivers celebrity dish on E! News Now, emcees all kinds of award ceremonies, and produces Keeping up with the Kardashians and other shows. This is the fifth year in a row that he’ll be in Times Square for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve—now known as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest—so we got on the horn with Seacrest and producer Larry Klein (who's been with the show for all of its 35 years) to talk about their plans for ringing in 2010.

Happy Birthday, Ryan! [Seacrest turned 35 years old on Christmas Eve.]

Ryan Seacrest: Thanks, if we were dating, what would you get me for my birthday?

I knew you would start interviewing me before I started interviewing you!

Seacrest: Well?

Um, slippers? ... Anyway, why is the show called New Year's Rockin’ Eve instead of Rockin' New Year's Eve? I think it sounds like saying "Un-freakin'-believable!"

Larry Klein: Dick Clark and I wanted people to see New Year’s before anything else, so they would instantly recognize what the show was about.

Seacrest: I was too afraid to ask that question.

This is your fifth year hosting NYRE. How do you prepare?

Seacrest: There’s a lot of choreography that goes into the timing of the performance. We talk through it all, but we wing most of it on air.

What about your personal routine?

Seacrest: I get up, make a protein shake with blueberries, and then get on the treadmill and listen to the Top 40—without my voice, of course. Then I have Virgil’s barbeque in my dressing room at 2pm. My fingers smell like barbeque for the entire show. Dick Clark does the same routine, by the way.

When will Dick Clark let you count down to 10?

Seacrest: I have to audition for him! Whenever he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore, I assume I will count backwards to midnight.

How did Melissa Rycroft get involved in this year's festivities?

Seacrest: She got married. Did you know that? She’s got quite a lot of drama, this Melissa.

Klein: Her name came up and people sparked to it.

Seacrest: She’s very sweet, smiled and nodded yes to everything we wanted her to do, and she has very white teeth. That’s all I can look at, because she’s married.

Klein: The show has been around for such a long time, everyone wants to be a part of it. She said the other day she still can’t believe she gets to do it.

Whose job is more difficult? Yours, hers, Fergie’s, or Dick Clark’s?

Seacrest: Jennifer Lopez's. She’s gotta dance, sing, and have all her people choreographed. It’s like NASA, this show. You’d be amazed at the countdowns down to the countdown of the countdown. Daughtry and Jennifer have the most pressure. If I screw up, I just go, “My bad.” And Larry gets yelled at.

Obviously you're tight with Fergie

Seacrest: …We’ve only been out twice and she’s married. She’s a fantastic host. It’s almost depressing, she’s so good at everything.

Well, what I meant to ask is that since you’re tight with Fergie, I wonder if you play a big role in landing artists for the show?

Seacrest: Larry and I talk about it all year. We start in the summer and talk about who’s on the charts. Looking back, we haven’t done so bad. The Jonas Brothers? They did alright. Taylor Swift? Doing all right. Mariah Carey?

You could definitely say she’s done all right.

Seacrest: What I love about this year is that there’s this guy Daughtry who got voted off a show called American Idol, and he’s going to be on the show.

What advice has Dick Clark given you?

Seacrest: He has always said to me, “Host these shows seamlessly. Make us feel like the people watching can do the job. Make it look so easy that people say, ‘How is that a job?’”

Has Dick Clark ever given you any bad advice?

Seacrest: He always wants me to freeze my ass off at these things. He really wants me to earn this job.

Please, one American Idol question: You’re friends with Ellen Degeneres. Did that have something to do with her becoming the next AI judge?

Seacrest: No, I had absolutely nothing to do it, but I’m really stoked she’s going to be on it.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest begins on December 31 at 10 pm on ABC.

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