If you’ve got the TV on the night of New Year’s Eve, you have plenty of choices if you’re looking to check in on the festivities in Times Square. But none of those choices are as venerable as ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which is celebrating its 40th year. For the second year in a row, Jenny McCarthy will be joining Clark and Ryan Seacrest to watch the ball drop; it caps off a busy year for her, which included appearances on “Two and a Half Men” and “The Millionaire Matchmaker.”
McCarthy talked with XfinityTV.com about her experience last year — including her midnight make-out session — why she thinks people should lay off Dick Clark, and who are the people on the “Two and a Half Men” set who miss Charlie Sheen the most.
What was it about the experience of doing “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” last year that made you decide to come back and do another year?
Well, when they [first] asked me to do it, I thought like everybody thinks [high-pitched voice] “Eeeh, I’m going to be cold, I don’t know, it’s live TV!” And I had one of the most amazing experiences of my career to date, I’m not kidding. It’s a bucket list kind of event. I watched Dick Clark all these years, as a little girl, and then standing there and sharing that kind of energy, that excitement that people have… No one’s in a bad mood, no one’s crabby, everyone’s just kinda like remembering the past, looking forward to the future, celebrating… It’s like a utopia.
What I tried to do is channel it the best I can, and the more fun I realized that I had, the more it translates to people at home. So I threw away my index cards that I had been so prepared for and realized, “just have a great time, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Had you ever gone to Times Square with your friends on New Year’s Eve?
No, I never have. I always thought, “someday.” You know, when you watch it, everyone has in the back of their head, “someday I’m going to do Times Square on New Year’s Eve,” and it just happened to be my first time, which of course is always better because you have security and a trailer nearby [Laughs].
But I must say it’s a must for everyone. It’s one of the first things I said on camera, live, “For sure, this is a bucket list for anybody.” You’ve got to try it once.
Did you ever have empathy for the people standing for hours on end? I don’t remember it being that cold last year, though.
It wasn’t too bad at all. I was actually kind of hot; I wore four turtlenecks and four leg warmers and I was actually just sweating my butt off. Those crowds are so packed, that you don’t feel any kind of brisk, cold air. Mind you, if it was 30 below and a blizzard, it would be a little different.
But for the most part, everyone’s spirits, if you will, are really up, and I didn’t see anyone that was like, “I’m dying freezing!” Of course, cut to this year and I’m starting fires to keep people from freezing. [laughs] We’ll start cuddle puddles of just cuddling to keep warm.
Is the crowd you’re standing around well-behaved or do you have to deal with hecklers?
I think we have really good producers, and Dick is New Year’s Eve and owns it, if you will, so we have the best manpower on the street, making sure a) we’re all safe, but b) really finding groups of people that are camera-friendly.
Did anything interesting happen off-camera or in the crowd last New Year’s Eve?
There was a live proposal that we caught just moments before it happened, and I was able to be there for it. He got on his knee and it was really romantic. And thank God she said yes. We all cheered and yelled and it was awesome. And at midnight, I found a guy to make out with, which was really fun.
Just some random guy or someone you knew?
Uh… Almost a little bit of both. I’ll leave it at that [laughs]. As we did the countdown, they’d throw the camera to me but I couldn’t hear it anymore [through my earpiece], and I was getting attacked by guys pinching my butt and pushing me and shoving me. I did not know I was live until later when Ryan was like, “Oh my god, we all watched you getting molested!” [Laughs] So people need to hang in there after the countdown to keep watching, because me looking lost and scared is very entertaining.
And someone might be able to say, “I kissed Jenny McCarthy at midnight!” It’ll be like a trophy to them.
[Laughs] I know. If I don’t have a cold sore, it will be.
Since this is the only thing Dick does on camera all year now, do you think he’s more excited about doing this than he has been in the past?
I don’t that it’s a matter of more, I think he’s just… This is why Dick is still doing what he’s doing. He loves it. Whether it’s working on camera for two minutes or producing something for two months, I think it’s all equal. It’s all a high he gets and why, you know, he’s still living. Like people who say they keep working live longer? I think he’s proof that passion for something [does that], and it’s not more then or more now. It’s all the time, I would say, with Dick.
What would you tell those people who think Dick should hang it up, given his physical limitations post-stroke and how he projects on camera?
I’d say pretend he’s your dad. My dad, who I love more than anything… who wants to turn him down? [Dick] did it for forty years, he still wants to do it, and if you look at it like it’s your dad is doing it, then your heart would open up and you’d go, “I get it… It’s hard, but I get it.” It’s an honor for him. He loves it, and we should all just shut up and honor it [chuckles].
But you think this is going to end up being Ryan Seacrest’s show at some point?
Oh, for sure. I mean, I can’t think of a better person who has taken the baton, and represents what Dick has done in terms of hosting. Then, one year, I’m thinking of knocking Ryan off the stage and hurting him, and I can be the leader of it all! [Laughs]
“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Jenny McCarthy.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? [Laughs] “Hey Ryan, look that way…”
You’ve been a guest on “Two and a Half Men” both before and after Charlie Sheen left. What difference have you seen on the set since Charlie left?
The inside information that I can give you and feel comfortable with is that the crew, the Teamster crew, really misses Charlie. They don’t dislike Ashton [Kutcher], everyone seems to get along with him, but they really bonded with Charlie, and they miss him. There was a real sense of sadness without him there.
From an actress’ point of view, my character was never really in love with Charlie’s chartacter, so it wasn’t a real stretch for me to manipulate the way I was supposed to with both guys. In terms of who’s better, I still don’t know. I know what it felt like now to Elizabeth Montgomery on “Bewitched” when they switched husbands, know what I mean? You don’t know who’s better; it’s just different.
Are we going to see you later on in the season?
I would imagine yes.