Ryan Seacrest Talks New Year's Eve Special amid COVID Spike, Plays Coy About Girlfriend Aubrey Paige

Ryan Seacrest will host ABC's annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest special on Friday, starting at 8 p.m. ET

Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest. Photo: Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty

Ryan Seacrest is gearing up to host ABC's annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest special on Friday.

The televised event — which Seacrest, 47, first joined as co-host in 2006 after late radio legend Dick Clark suffered a stroke two years prior — is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. On Dec. 23, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would proceed with doing its annual Times Square ball drop with fewer in attendance amid the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the new omicron variant.

"We don't know what's gonna happen. This is the most elaborate stage in live television because it's several stages covering whole New York City blocks," Seacrest told USA Today. "It's part of the show's excitement. We are in control, but not totally in control, every time."

Seacrest was named full-time host of the special in 2007 years prior to Clark's death in 2012. But given the current state of the world, the American Idol host doesn't believe he can be as optimistic as Clark had previously been at the show's end.

"He would always have these wonderful quotes of hope," Seacrest recalled. "One still needs to do that. But it's definitely measured considering what we've all been through and still are in the middle of, which would never have crossed my mind ad-libbing on the New Year's telecast five years ago. That has to be top of mind as we continue to work through this difficult time."

Seacrest won't be alone on this year's stage as Liza Koshy, Billy Porter and Ciara will appear as co-hosts. LL Cool J, Journey and Karol G have additionally been tapped as this year's musical guests.

Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

Roselyn Sanchez will also join as a co-host for the first-ever Spanish-language countdown, broadcasting live from Puerto Rico. Daddy Yankee will appear as a performer.

As the clock strikes midnight, it's a common practice for people to share a New Year's kiss with someone. Seacrest has been dating 23-year-old model Aubrey Paige.

"I guess we'll have to stay tuned to see who I kiss on New Year's Eve," he teased.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

While ABC's special will continue on amid the COVID-19 spike, Fox announced the cancelation of New Year's Eve Toast & Roast 2022 on Dec. 21. The broadcast would have featured Community alums Ken Jeong and Joel McHale.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest airs Friday (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles