What a difference 40 years makes. When the late Dick Clark debuted on "New Year's Rockin' Eve" back in 1972, he held the role of Times Square reporter covering the live ball drop. Big names of the day, like Three Dog Night and Helen Reddy, provided the music for the family-friendly festivities, and Clark's popularity as the host of "American Bandstand" gave the show a hip (and dare we say "groovy"?) feel.
Fast forward to 2012 and the first New Year's Eve without Dick Clark's presence. His memory was present alright (ABC dedicated the first two hours of this year's show to Clark's top 30 "American Bandstand" moments), but it wasn't the same with Fergie and Jenny McCarthy gushing the names of Clark's classic intros to acts such as the Jacksons and a newbie Madonna, who vowed to one day "rule the world."
Ryan Seacrest has proved to be a worthy successor to Clark (he's had the legendary host's blessing for years and stepped in as co-host after Clark suffered a debilitating stroke in 2004), and this year he seemed appropriately conscious of his mentor's legacy, even tweeting before the show: "Tonight is dedicated to the man who started it all… Dick Clark."
2012 went out with a bang for ABC ("New Year's Rockin' Eve" garnered the highest ratings of the night, nabbing a whopping 13.3 viewers in time for the ball drop), but other networks rocked to a very different beat.
Most notable was CNN. The cable news outlet bordered on downright raunchy with hosts Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, although with all due respect to Cooper -- who is a respected news journalist, after all. It was Griffin who delivered the low blows. Unfortunately, it was almost literally.
Griffin -- who in the past has stripped down to her skivvies and dropped the F-bomb on the network's live New Year's Eve broadcast -- repeatedly attempted to kiss Cooper's private parts. The nervous newsie was not exactly amused as Griffin said things like, "I can do this all night long… I'm going down," and "I'm going to tickle your sack." (Cooper's retort: "I don't know what you're talking about. I have no sack of gifts here… I did not bring a sack of Christmas presents.") Griffin was downright relentless, claiming she needed "a moment" for an upcoming Letterman appearance, but the whole scene was fairly uncomfortable and wasn't even covered in Cooper's pre-show Twitter apology.
Meanwhile, Carson Daly may be following Ryan Seacrest's career path (he's also a TV music competition host, a New Year's Eve host, and has a radio show), but NBC's New Year's Eve offering couldn't top the charts. Still, "New Year's Eve With Carson Daly" provided some year-end cheer and a ton of cross-promotion with appearances by Daly's "The Voice" cronies Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope.
Fox News got in on the NYE action with everyone from Pat Benatar to a Broadway cast ("Million Dollar Quartet," to be exact), and there was more rockin' on Teen Nick with host Nick Cannon hanging in Times Square and counting down the top music videos of 2012. Hey, MTV doesn't play music videos anymore, so someone has to.
Speaking of MTV, to be fair, the former music channel did host a New Year's Eve bash. But with Snooki and JWoww as hosts of "Club NYE in NYC," it magnified the network's shift to a raunchy reality TV format.
Yes, the 2013 New Year's celebrations are a far cry from the old days of Guy Lombardo and his band, The Royal Canadians, playing "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight -- which was an annual tradition on CBS until the bandleader's death in 1977. And we'll forever miss Dick Clark's New Year's countdown and subsequent smooch with his wife at the stroke of midnight. But according to Seacrest, Clark had a favorite mantra: "Dick was always one to say, 'The show must go on.'"
And on it goes.
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