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Dick Clark Gets Ready to Rock In Another Year

Television: The perennial host will be on duty again in Times Square but admits, 'This is a young person's game.'

December 30, 1996|PATRICIA BRENNAN | THE WASHINGTON POST

How many New Year's Eves have you spent watching the sparkling ball descend in New York City's Times Square with the ubiquitous Dick Clark?

It's not that you haven't got a life, of course. Sometimes you've done the countdown surrounded by people at somebody's party. Perhaps you've been with your sweetie, just the two of you. Or you've been surrounded by strangers watching a TV at a restaurant or club.

OK, maybe there have been a couple of times you've been at home alone, vicariously sharing New Year's Eve with people on television who seem to be having more fun than you.

But wherever you've been, Clark hopes you've been indoors. It's usually very cold out there in Times Square, he said.

"This is a young person's game," he said. "I'm the oldest person in the square. Nobody over 18 should be out there. People in their 20s, they've got the stamina"--and, he added, for some--"probably plenty of antifreeze."

Clark is 65, although for years people have remarked on his agelessness. It's a matter of record that he was 26 when ABC-TV picked up "American Bandstand" in 1957, a Philadelphia show that he'd been hosting for a year.

"Bandstand" became the longest-running afternoon show for teenagers ever with a tryout as a half-hour prime-time show during the fall of 1957. On New Year's Day, VH1 cable service is running "The Best of American Bandstand" all day.

Dick Clark Productions now has 700 employees turning out dozens of shows, most of them music and/or awards specials, and he could easily give up the reins and stay warm.

But no, New York is Clark's kind of town--his hometown, in fact. "New York is the crossroads of the world, the trademark of New Year's in the United States," he said. "Everybody looks to Times Square. I never want to retire."

This year's "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '97" on ABC will feature Clark in New York, with Stacey Dash and Donald Adeosun Faison from ABC's "Clueless" in Hollywood introducing a contingent of recording artists that include KISS, Jann Arden, the Presidents of the United States of America, Tony Rich and Weird Al Yankovic.

There will also be a look at the rock, country and soul artists who have helped Clark celebrate New Year's Eve on television over a quarter century.

The highlight for most viewers will be the sparkling ball that drops as revelers in Times Square count the seconds. Last year, for the first time, the ball was controlled by a computer. True to Murphy's Law, there was a glitch.

"Fortunately, we have our own digital clock," said Clark, "and we were right on time when we said 'Happy New Year!' "

* "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '97" airs Tuesday at 11:35 p.m. on ABC. VH1 carries its "American Bandstand" marathon from 7 a.m. Wednesday (some cable systems begin at 4 a.m.) to 3 a.m. Thursday.

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