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Despite this year’s challenges, Ryan Seacrest says ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ will rock on: “The show is always going to happen”

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest airs on ABC Friday night, but on Wednesday, two of the stars scheduled to perform in New York’s Times Square — LL Cool J and Chloe — pulled out, LL due to a positive COVID test. Ryan Seacrest, however, says the show must go on.

“In our minds, the show is always going to happen. There’s always going to be a ball that drops, whether there are people there or not. I think we learned that last year!” he tells ABC Audio. 

And while there will only be a quarter of the usual crowd in Times Square, Ryan notes, “Over these years…we’ve faced real challenges and we still turn the page and a new year still starts.”

As for the loss of two marquee performers, Ryan explains, “Over the years, there have been situations where we thought…a performer couldn’t make it in or they weren’t going to be able to get there to perform. So we are trained to know how to react to last-minute changes.”

“We’re going to pivot — we’re going to put Journey” — a previously announced Time Square performer “in [LL Cool J’s] spot,” Ryan adds. “We have enough performers and enough different moving parts that the show will always fill any gap.”

This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary, and first-time co-host Liza Koshy says the show will “commend the incredibleness that Dick Clark began.”

“There are so many clips that we have that we’re playing back from the ’80s, ’90s, 2000s…it’s been an incredible journey,” she says. And with additional performances in L.A., Puerto Rico and New Orleans, Liza  notes, “People are going to be tuning in to just layers of performance and entertainment the whole night!”

As for why New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is still rockin’ 50 years later, Ryan says, “There’s a mixture of nostalgia and relevance…[It’s] a part of our DNA as kids…and also an extreme relevance when you look at the artists that are performing.”

This year, those artists include Ciara, Billy Porter, Måneskin, Avril Lavigne, AJR, Travis Barker, Polo G, Walker Hayes, Daddy Yankee, OneRepublic and many more.

Those things, he adds, will “hopefully continue to make this the franchise that it is for another 50 years!”

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