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Host Carson Daly & Executive Producer John Irwin talk New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve with Carson DalyNBC will be ringing in the New Year live from Time Square in New York with NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly, on Saturday, December 31st.

Carson Daly, who will host the NBC event for the fourteenth year, and executive producer, John Irwin, recently talked to the media about the upcoming event.

Daly started off by talking to SciFi Vision about some of the performances viewers will see this year.

“You know, Jennifer Lopez was just added, which is really great for us, obviously. She’s got a huge residency in Vegas so, we’re glad to have Jennifer Lopez doing a special song for us.

“And then we’ve got Blake Shelton, who continues to just have an incredible year, and his star continues to rise. Alicia Keys, and Pentatonix; it’s been fun to watch their success this year. So those are some of the artists that you’ll see on the special.

“And my co-host is Mel B, who you know from the Spice Girls and America’s Got Talent, and who’s, you know, just super fun.

“So I’m really looking forward to the music and the fun that night.”

The host then talked to the site about what he was looking forward to, other than the performances.

“I’m so jaded at this point, because I’ve just done it so long. And I mean that in a good sense. Like, if it was something that I wasn’t into, I wouldn’t even do it anymore.

“But between my time at MTV, when I got to New York in 1997, you know, MTV had these big blowouts at 1515 Broadway which is like, right there, literally.

“So I’ve been at this crossroads of the world since I think, 19 years or something like that it is. Fourteen for NBC.

“So, I mean honestly, the star of the night really, oddly enough, and look, we do our best to book great music and have - you know, we’ll do what a lot of these shows do, similar sorts of formats of looking back at kind of the trends of the year.

“But obviously, our main goal has always been trying to deliver just the live experience of Times Square to people at home and put it in their living room.

“And I do my best to kind of encapsulate the excitement of the night and just kind of describe what I’m seeing to people who couldn’t be there.

“So the star of the night is the ball. And a million people freezing and wondering how they all have been standing there for over 12 hours, and where they’re peeing, if they are at all.

“It’s such a bucket list thing that it’s hard to out-book the night, if you will.”

NBC Conference Call
New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly
Host Carson Daly and Executive Producer John Irwin


December 19, 2016
1:30 pm ET

SCIFI VISION: Hi guys, thanks for talking to us today. I was wondering if you could start off just kind of talking about some of the performances that we’re going to see this year.

New Year's Eve with Carson DalyCARSON DALY: Hey Jamie, thanks for your time today too. We appreciate it. We’ve got some good ones this year.

You know, Jennifer Lopez was just added, which is really great for us, obviously. She’s got a huge residency in Vegas so, we’re glad to have Jennifer Lopez doing a special song for us.

And then we’ve got Blake Shelton, who continues to just have an incredible year, and his star continues to rise. Alicia Keys, and Pentatonix; it’s been fun to watch their success this year. So those are some of the artists that you’ll see on the special.

And my co-host is Mel B, who you know from the Spice Girls, and who’s, you know, just super fun and [from] America’s Got Talent.

So I’m really looking forward to the music and the fun that night. Thanks Jamie.

SCIFI VISION: Okay cool. Thanks. And then is there - I guess, not necessarily a performance, but something specific that you’re like looking forward to this year? Like either seeing somebody in particular, or just part of the night?

CARSON DALY: Jamie I’m so jaded at this point, because I’ve just done it so long. And I mean that in a good sense. Like, if it was something that I wasn’t into, I wouldn’t even do it anymore.

But between my time at MTV, when I got to New York in 1997, you know, MTV had these big blowouts at 1515 Broadway which is like, right there, literally.

So I’ve been at this crossroads of the world since I think, 19 years or something like that it is. Fourteen for NBC.

So, I mean honestly, the star of the night really, oddly enough, and look, we do our best to book great music and have - you know, we’ll do what a lot of these shows do, similar sorts of formats of looking back at kind of the trends of the year.

But obviously, our main goal has always been trying to deliver just the live experience of Times Square to people at home and put it in their living room.

And I do my best to kind of encapsulate the excitement of the night and just kind of describe what I’m seeing to people who couldn’t be there.

So the star of the night is the ball. And a million people freezing and wondering how they all have been standing there for over 12 hours, and where they’re peeing, if they are at all.

It’s such a bucket list thing that it’s hard to out-book the night, if you will.

SCIFI VISION: That’s true. All right, well thank you so much.

CARSON DALY: You got it. Thanks.

QUESTION: It’s always so freezing cold in Times Square. What are your tips for newbies that are coming out? And also, where is a good place to see your stage? Give people like a little bit of a hit if they’re coming in to see the action live.

CARSON DALY: Don’t is the hint. Stay home. Stay home. Be warm. You know I would say, the weather is definitely a thing. I mean I’ve been out there so many years and I have to confess, as cold as I look, NBC really only recently has built in like probably what you see, similar to some football games where they got some sort of heating technology on the sidelines. We actually have heaters underneath so, the stage is actually bearable. That’s good for me and not for a million revelers.

You know, I don’t know. I don’t know - dress in layers? Does that mean anything for cold - I mean it’s cold. I don’t know what this year’s forecast is. We’ve had unseasonably warm New Year’s Eve where it’s felt like, you know, 45 and balmy and just, you know, kind of weird.

And we’ve had, you know, we’ve had nights where it’s been like ten below chill factor. So you know for people coming I guess I would just prepare for the worst. Because if you have to take your parka off, you know, at least you’ll be prepared if it’s that cold.

We’re sort of in front of the Marriott Marquis. You know Times Square has changed a lot over the years. So if you can - you know you’ve got to get there early. So that’s a good tip. Show up early. Bring warm clothes.

We’re on Broadway. Where are we John, 40 - what is that?

JOHN IRWIN: We’re at like 45th and Broadway.

CARSON DALY: Forty-fifth and Broadway.

Right, right. And it’s a small plot. You know if you get a spot around there, that’s a good spot, 47th and Broadway. Because you know less than - maybe a block away is ABC. You know we see Anderson and Kathy like a half a block away. And it’s been fun over the years to see all the different broadcasts and the different shows.

I mean we really are all covering the same thing so, that’s a good spot for people if they want to come down.

JOHN IRWIN: And Carson the one thing I would add is that it is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s something you have to do once. Because to actually be there in person is truly an experience.

CARSON DALY: Yes, that’s true.

QUESTION: I just can’t imagine John, what goes into planning that? When do you start planning New Year’s Eve? When do you start securing the talent and when do you start getting that all together? It’s got to be quite a job.

JOHN IRWIN: Yes, I mean you know, we usually start in around September. You know obviously booking the music is probably kind of the hardest part of the process. Although it’s gotten easier just because the show has sort of become more kind of like a standard.

And then, you know, we obviously try to figure out a good little mix of comedy to work into there so that, you know, there’s some of that.

And then just logistically, you know there’s just - it’s a couple of months of kind of working through logistics and all that stuff. But, it’s fun.

QUESTION: Well having Alicia and Blake on, they’re going to be in Times Square, right? Right Carson, they’re going to be there?

JOHN IRWIN: We’ve got Blake, Alicia, and Pentatonix who are going to be performing from Los Angeles. And then we have Jennifer Lopez who’s going to be performing from Las Vegas.

QUESTION: It’s crazy in Times Square, how they always do the countdown every hour. And some of that stuff I wish people could see on TV because it’s just insane.

And was it last year Vanilla Ice was just kind of walking around in the crowd? It was the...

CARSON DALY: Yes. Yes, you never know who you’re going to see. And yes it is. It’s crazy right in Times Square. The Times Square Alliance actually does a great job of putting on a party. I mean there’s like a show in and of itself, you know, around us.

I always try and explain to people at home, like you have no idea what’s going on here. Because they do kind of the world’s countdown. Every hour becomes ringing in somebody’s New Year.

And there’re artists and people booked there in Times Square. It makes doing music in Times Square that night a little bit difficult because again, you’re only dealing with a small postage stamp of area. And logistically there’s a ton of stuff going on.

Alicia KeysQUESTION: Carson, what’s your favorite memory? I mean you’ve been doing this so long. You know, what was your wildest New Year’s Eve?

CARSON DALY: Honestly, the MTV ones were the craziest because we had just gotten that property, 1515 Broadway, the typical kind of TRL windows to the world if you will, kind of look. You know we had moved from another studio.

And the MO of MTV in the late 90s, you know Y2K was probably the most memorable because as you recall, we all thought the world was just going to stop. And banks were just going to shut down. And lights were going to go off. Like there was going to be some sort of global blackout at midnight.

And people really bought into that. It was a trendy - there was a lot of fads about, you know, people sort of liquidating. And you know that was sort of a weird one.

Plus it was just kind of at the height of MTV. And we were really switching our philosophy to do a lot more live because TRL was very successful. And so we just decided to throw a party every year on New Year’s Eve. And when we built the studio, it was built with that in mind of having like tons of live TV as we were really doing a lot of reality TV.

And so our parties on New Year’s Eve looked really good. And they were real parties and they were pretty debaucherous as you can imagine. Many of the artists that were performing and/or just guests that were in New York became the - like they wanted to be there. It wasn’t just a TV show. It was a party that they wanted to attend. And that yielded some pretty crazy stuff.

I remember Marilyn Manson one year trying to jump through the glass while he was performing live. He took like three or four legitimate jumps at that glass, which I’m told was bullet-proof, but I’m not so sure that was the case.

QUESTION: Gosh, those MTV parties. There was the Snooki ball drop year.

((Crosstalk))

CARSON DALY: Yes, yes those were after my tenure but yes - I’ve seen those too. New Year’s Eve is always a fun night. And MTV is a great place to broadcast, you know, a party because that’s the network is just - its association with music and youth culture is just so much fun. I mean we had a lot of fun nights.

At NBC we’ve had some great, memorable moments as well. I remember Alex Rodriguez, when the Yankees were winning a lot, stopped by unannounced one year and came up on stage. And that was cool because I’m a Yankees fan.

And somebody wasn’t. It must have been a Red Sox fan or somebody in the audience threw something at him while we were live on TV. And it ended up being like a sandwich in a sandwich bag.

And as I was talking to him I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I deflected it from hitting the great A. Rod. So that was always a great moment. I don’t know if it ever made TV. I think it did. But that was a fun memory too.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you had been doing this show for so many years.

CARSON DALY: Yes.

QUESTION: How do you keep it fresh each year?

CARSON DALY: You know, I think my - I don’t know if there’s really anything I can do to keep it fresh, you know, to be honest with you.

I mean I think everybody is excited on New Year’s Eve - for the same reasons. You know what’s fresh about it is just it’s the dawn of a new year. And I feel like we’re all in that same place where you get fatigued at the end of the year, especially this year with the political cycle being what it was.

So you get a night where everybody - you can almost feel the world just sort of exhaling. And there’s this dawn of a new day and the idea of 2017.

So a show like this, a one-off special like this carries its own very unique; very proprietary fresh feeling because that’s really the essence of what it is.

You know we’re watching a ball drop in New York City which is great symbolism. And it’s a longstanding tradition. And our country is divided and we’ve been through a lot this year but yet here we all are together.

And the ball goes down and you know, you count backwards and when one comes it’s 2017 and we’re all crossing the finish line together. And John and I couldn’t produce anything that could top that.

It’s the only night of the year that that’s really the feeling that we all have. You know we all love to get great talent. We’re so happy to have Blake and Alicia and Jennifer.

And I’m really excited to work with Mel B. And I think we’ll do a good job of ushering in the New Year and giving you commentary of what it’s like to be there in Times Square, even if you can’t be.

John and I have talked a lot about keeping those cameras live in Times Square. So a picture says 1000 words. You can see the people that have driven there. The military folks that are there. The families that are there. It’s fun just to people watch. And I think NBC does a good job of that.

QUESTION: I have a question for John.

JOHN IRWIN: Okay.

QUESTION: Hi. So I just wanted to know, what are the challenges of creating a live production in Times Square, especially on New Year’s Eve?

JOHN IRWIN: Well, you know, live always is a challenge but, it’s also the most exciting television you can do. Because 100% at 11:30, the show is on the air. Do you know what I mean?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

JOHN IRWIN: So I think there’s a huge rush that kind of comes into putting all that together. And specifically as far as challenges go, it’s - you know it’s as Carson kind of said, it’s coordinating with all of the - you know, there’s a lot of moving parts to what’s happening in Times Square on New Year’s.

And you know the Times Square Alliance, it’s working with them to kind of coordinate what we need. And then getting all the music in place and putting all the blocks together I think is really kind of the challenge - and look, that goes for any live show.

I think that, the thing that’s exciting about New Year’s is that you are also surrounded by a couple of million people. You know and so it’s just an added element of excitement I think.

QUESTION: Carson, what do you look forward to every year?

CARSON DALY: You know it’s changed, because I’ve been there for so long.

JOHN IRWIN: I thought it was just working with me Carson. No?

CARSON DALY: Yes, it is working with you John, for sure. John brings a whole - you know I’ve done - I’ve seen the show in like so many different incarnations of production. And it’s just been different almost every year.

But honestly, more recently, you know my life has been so busy the last couple of years since The Voice. And I’m back and forth across the country doing the Today Show and The Voice in L.A. and all this stuff.

But I’m a father first and foremost. Being a family man is my most prized possession and it’s the number 1 priority in my life.

So I’ve got three kids - 2, 4, and 7. And just recently they now come to this thing. Before they were too little and I didn’t want them in the craziness of Times Square. But now we’ve got a system worked out where they enjoy it.

And the last couple of years they’re getting of the age - so bringing my kids up and letting them be in the center of that with my wife. Kind of sharing in that moment with my family.

Before when I was single it was like oh, this was the greatest night. I’m going to go out and party. Obviously, everybody is going to be out. The celebs and all the beautiful people and it’s going to be an all-nighter and it’s going to be great. And I’ve done that and that’s fun.

What’s kind of cool now is I’ve gotten a little bit older in life and I get to - there’s also been times when I’ve been married and had kids but I couldn’t share with them that night. And it’s been not lonely, but what good is any experience to any of us if you’re not with the ones you love.

And so now I think sharing that moment with my wife and my kids, even if they just come up for a picture or I get to give them a kiss at midnight or when I’m done, that’s become kind of my new favorite thing. It’s become like a Daly family tradition.

In fact I didn’t even think I’d been hosting this show much longer. I mean I need another job like I need a hole in my head. But it’s become a tradition and it’s something that I really enjoy doing and it’s important to my family.

QUESTION: So this is a live broadcast and you can prepare and prepare but, something could go south. How do you handle that? You know, how do you prep for that and then how do you handle that if it happens?

JOHN IRWIN: Well...

CARSON DALY: Well John I’ll start and you can kind of take it. From just my point of view quickly, is just as the host and as somebody that’s done - like live is all I’ve ever done, such with my radio career.

Anything non-live I find very tedious, to be honest with you. And some of the stuff that we do on The Voice is non-live and it just takes forever to do. So, I’m a live guy and I love it.

And when you say south, I mean it depends on the magnitude of it. My angle is always to try and turn a potential moment into something that could be, you know, fun.

For instance on New Year’s Eve in the past, we’ve seen celebrities and people kind of walking off camera and all, you know, off the cuff. Because we are live, you know, ask the camera guy hey let’s shoot this over here. And you try and make those moments into good TV moment and prevent them from going too far south.

Now from a technical standpoint John, I don’t know. If things are going south we, you know, cut to a rerun of the Tonight Show probably.

JOHN IRWIN: I think it’s exactly what Carson just said. You basically turn lemons into lemonade. And sometimes that spontaneous moment ends up being better than anything you could have planned for. Now if we have a technical problem, you just have to react on the fly. You know it kind of depends on what it is.

And fortunately, knock on wood, we really haven’t had much of that happen. So hopefully we don’t need to ever worry about that or, we don’t experience that.

QUESTION: You two have been doing this together for a while now. Do you have a shorthand between you two?

JOHN IRWIN: Yes, I think - yes I think we definitely do. I think we definitely do.

CARSON DALY: Yes.

JOHN IRWIN: It’s been like four years.

QUESTION: An example?

JOHN IRWIN: I kind of know what Carson needs and likes. And you know when we’re on the air - the truth is that it just makes both our lives - I mean speaking for both of us, I think the whole process makes both our lives a little bit easier and less time-consuming.

The shorthand you know, it’s that there’s less time trying to figure out how we’re going to deal with stuff. Because we already know how we’re going to deal with it when it comes up kind of thing.

Carson DalyCARSON DALY: Yes, I agree with that. We’ve come to a good spot of the tonality of this night, it’s usually something that’s experimented with. You know, should we be overly funny? Should we do like nothing but music? Should we do no music? Should we have tons of guests stopping by? Should we not?

And after years and years of doing it, I think John and I have come to a good place of balance between all of those things. And therein lies, you know, kind of like what I do, I think best is just try and be a good communicator and a good host and something that plays traffic cop to a lot of different elements on a live broadcast scenario. And that’s exactly what this is.

So this sort of feeds into, I think, both of our strengths.

NBC: Hi, thank you so much. Before we wrap up guys, just one quick question for the both of you.

CARSON DALY: Sure.

NBC: What are you looking forward to most in 2017? And, do you have a New Year’s resolution?

CARSON DALY: I got to get a New Year’s resolution John, and you should too. Because that is the big question and I don’t have one. Do you have one?

JOHN IRWIN: I don’t. I guess that what I’m looking forward to most is getting past 2016. I can tell you that. I need to work on my resolutions for ‘17.

CARSON DALY: Yes. I don’t have one either but, I second that. I think there will be a big - probably because of politics. It was so in everybody’s face. But I’m looking forward to, if I could somehow manage a few less plane trips in 2017 because I feel like I was on the road a lot.

And I hate being away from my kids. So if I could get the live shows - my resolution is to try and get the live shows for The Voice in New York.

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