An estimated one million people took part in Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve ’09 with Ryan Seacrest in Times Square, but I was happy to be one of the millions watching from home. It was so cold — a wind chill temperature of 2 degrees — that some people could not move their bodies to Lionel Richie’s live rendition of "Brick House." (Frozen extremities are the only explanation for why you would not dance to that song.) Below, my take on the best and worst of the broadcast. Feel free to weigh in and add your own.
Best: Ryan Seacrest’s stubble. I almost didn’t volunteer to write this post because I knew there’d be a moment when I’d find myself attracted to Seacrest. (And that I’d admit it.) It’s happened both times I’ve live-blogged an American Idol finale. Last night, it occurred immediately, when I saw that 5 (or 10) o’clock shadow. I’ll admit that I got a little jealous when he sat on top of a barricade and hugged a random woman in the crowd, that I noticed (and approved) when he changed jackets, and that I sent an email to the EW.com staff asking if anyone knew who the girl was standing beside him on the platform at midnight (Demi Lovato). I’ll also admit that I was sober.
Worst: Solange’s yellow eyeshadow. It wasn’t so much the color, as it was the solid streak.
Best: Dick Clark’s obvious pleasure in seeing Seacrest finally freeze his ass off. Is there a more heartwarming sight than Dick Clark giggling?
Dick: Ryan in from the cold. Are you unfrozen?
Ryan: You’re loving this.
Dick: You look alright.
Ryan: I mean, it’s windy.
Dick: No, no, it’s festive.
Ryan: True story: I walked in, you said to me before the show, "Wind is nothing. I want rain, I want sleet, I want you earning this."
Dick: You haven’t lived until you’ve had rain, sleet, and snow all at once.
Worst: The obvious pain in seeing a guy in the crowd do the robot, poorly, during the Pussycat Dolls’ performance of "Bottle Pop." If you’re gonna pull out the robot, you’ve got to commit. I speak from experience.
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Best: Realizing that I still don’t know the names of the Pussycat Dolls that aren’t Nicole Scherzinger. Sorry.
Worst: Realizing how much time I’ve spent wondering if those backup Pussycat Dolls ever sing live. No?
Best: Watching Taylor Swift avoid eye contact with her ex, Joe Jonas Forget the medley she performed, even if she did take her jacket off and brave the elements in a sleeveless dress with a cutout back. (That girl lives for a mid-performance costume change.) Her finest moment came at midnight when she and Joe Jonas stood on opposite ends of the platform and she ignored him. I actually cursed when ABC cut away right as we were about to see whether hug-happy Joe would try to embrace her.
Worst: ABC not letting Taylor ring in the new year with her BFF, Kellie Pickler. Yes, Pickler, our new ‘Rockin’ Times Square correspondent, cooing over Swift’s performance had been minorly cringe-worthy, but the two should’ve been reunited on the platform. They watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve together last year on the couch, while making cakes. Adorable.
Best: Pickler’s genuine enthusiasm I wanted to dislike Kellie and what Ryan referred to as her "100 percent blond charm" — how can she be tossing it back to Dick Clark? But she wasn’t half bad in her role as roving fluff reporter. (Kellie to Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins: "Now, Tim, tell us about the confetti. What’s different about it this year?") She handled the heavy-lifting — pimping Verizon and Ritz — with as much ease as you could expect from someone standing in front of a screaming crowd. And she seemed legitimately excited for every person who announced that they were engaged, or expecting, or going on a trip to Hawaii.
Worst: Pickler’s finishing every demonstrative sentence with the question, "Yeah?" Also, her repeatedly begging Dick and Ryan to bring her back next year.
Best: The sheer number of performances during "Fergie’s Hollywood party." Ne-Yo, Jesse McCartney, and (surprising?) showstopper Natasha Bedingfield hit the right notes for me.
Worst: Every cut to Fergie during which she promoted who would be performing but didn’t actually introduce a performance. They should’ve just stayed in New York until the ball dropped, then sent it out to the Duchess. (They also should’ve made Josh Duhamel make an appearance on-camera.)
Best: Seacrest’s reaction to the first use of the Scope Kiss Cam. "Go! Yes! Action! First face! Love it!"
Worst: Paris Hilton’s taped message wishing Dick and Ryan a happy new year. She referred to them both as legends.
Worst of All: Flipping to CNN during a Fall Out Boy performance and discovering that your DVR decided to stop taping Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. Boo.
More on New Year’s entertainment:
Kathy Griffin-Anderson Cooper New Year’s Eve: Did she just say?…
The song you heard at the stroke of midnight
Our list of New Year’s Day TV marathons: Time to Dig ‘Bones’