"I've got the drunk guy with no shirt on next to a 10-year-old from Nebraska," she says of the gig

By Tim Nudd
December 31, 2012 12:00 PM
Bob D'Amico/ABC/Getty

For Jenny McCarthy, New Year’s Eve has become a parallel universe. It’s the one night of the year when everyone else is crazy, and she’s not.

“I’m excited,” says McCarthy, 40, about co-hosting Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest on ABC. “I have more fun doing live TV than anything, I think because it’s hard to censor. And I like that! So it’s a little more off the cuff, and you never know what’s going to happen.”

That’s an understatement. The show will run five hours again this year – it used to be just two and half – and McCarthy knows that’s a lot of time for the hordes in Times Square to do unexpected things.

“I’ve got the drunk guy with no shirt on next to a 10-year-old from Nebraska,” she says. “It’s a great test of skills and fun for me.”

She adds with a laugh: “It’s really forcing me to be sober for these New Year’s to come. Really the only day I might be sober in the whole year kidding!”

As for who she’ll kiss at midnight, that may be up to the audience. She’s taking suggestions on social media on whether he should be a New York fireman, a solider or “average Joe.” (Tweet to @JennyMcCarthy with hashtags #military, #FDNY or #AverageJoe or go to Facebook.com/NewYearsRockinEve.)

It will be a milestone year for the show – the first without Clark himself, who died in April at age 82. McCarthy, who has done the show for two years and recently signed up for five more, says she will miss Clark, who “paved the way” for her and Seacrest. But she added that Ryan is a singular talent as well.

“I’ve worked with so many jerks in the business, and egos but Ryan is the most professional, nicest, team player, non-ego hard worker I’ve ever met,” she says. “He just makes a ton more money than I do. And he doesn’t have a baby!”

Reporting by KATE HOGAN