Ringing in the new year
There are some constants to New Year’s Eve: champagne, silly hats and horns, the prospect of a New Year’s kiss — but one thing that never disappoints is Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, a holiday tradition that has lasted for 47 years and counting. Ryan Seacrest has hosted the special from Times Square since 2005, but the tradition of watching the ball drop after a slew of musical performances has become so enduring that it’s popped up in pop culture everywhere from Friends to Forrest Gump. This year Seacrest returns to ABC at 8 p.m. ET alongside cohosts Jenny McCarthy, Lucy Hale, and Ciara. Musical performers include Kelsea Ballerini, the Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa, Charlie Puth, and more. Before you ring in 2019, here are our 10 favorite NYRE callouts in movies and TV over the years.
Friends, "The One With the Routine" (1999)
The Geller siblings brought us some memorable moments over Friends’ 10 seasons on NBC, but none more so than their New Year’s Eve dance routine in season 6. When Janine (Elle Macpherson) is going to feature on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, she invites Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), and Ross (David Schwimmer). Desperate to get on camera, Monica and Ross resurrect a quirky, weirdly intimate dance number from their high school days. Needless to say, it doesn’t earn them the screen time they desire — though it does give fans great insight into the idiosyncracies of their competitive childhood.
The Oprah Winfrey Show (1997)
Dick Clark joined another broadcasting legend, Oprah Winfrey, on her eponymous talk show in 1997 to chat about his New Year’s Eve traditions. She made an unwittingly hilarious comment when, after two female audience members complimented Clark for being single women’s dates on New Year’s Eve, Winfrey replied, “You’re right, as a single woman, ’cause I remember all my years in Baltimore — that’s what you do. You turn Dick on to help you through the night.”
M&M's "Millennium" commercial (2000)
As the “official candies of the new millennium,” the Red and Yellow M&M’s take a meeting with Dick Clark asking him to be the host for the New Year’s bash in Times Square, ringing in the year 2000. After watching the candies bicker, Clark declines, saying, “No thanks, guys. I was the host of the first millennium. Thanks anyway… candies.” The winking commercial also threw in a nod to Clark’s ever-present youthfulness, with the Red M&M remarking, “He does look young for his age!”
Mad About You, "New Year's Eve" (1995)
Real footage from Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve made its way into this episode of the NBC sitcom, in which Paul (Paul Reiser) gets called on to film the ball drop in Times Square while Jamie (Helen Hunt) attends the Mayor’s Ball. We see footage from the festivities while a voice-over announces, “Good evening, I’m Dale Bender filling in for an ailing Dick Clark. Beautiful night here in Times Square. The police estimate the crowd to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 people, all gathered here tonight to ring in the new year, 1996, together.” We eventually see Paul in Times Square on hand to film the proceedings for the Explorer Channel.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Throughout Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks’ title character finds himself present at various historic moments, meeting presidents, serving in the Vietnam War, and more. It wouldn’t be U.S. history without a little Dick Clark, and when Forrest celebrates New Year’s 1972 with Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise) in a New York City bar, footage from the iconic special plays on a TV Forrest is watching.
Year of the Dog (2007)
In this dramedy about a secretary whose life changes after her dog dies, Peggy (Molly Shannon) enjoys a glass of wine in the kitchen on New Year’s Eve as New Year’s Rockin’ Eve footage plays on television. Feeling a little buzzed, Peggy decides to wake her niece Lissie from bed and bring her downstairs to watch the final moments of the ball drop and ring in the new Year together.
Money Train (1995)
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes had another indelible onscreen pairing in this tale of a New York City transit cop who decides to steal a trainload of subway fares and the foster brother who tries to protect him. We see some behind-the-scenes footage of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve near the film’s conclusion. Footage is seen playing back in a control booth on TV monitors in Times Square, and the crowd starts to count down to the new year just as John (Snipes) and Charlie (Harrelson) emerge from a subway tunnel that’s drenched in confetti. As the crowd yells “Happy new year!” the two men embrace, declaring, “We did it!” As they hug, John realizes Charlie is secretly packing some of the cash under his jacket.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
The entirety of this film takes place over the holiday season, meaning we get a prime shot of Dick Clark’s annual festivities. Ox (Peter Boyle), Saul (Jack Warden), Elsie (Glynis Johns), and Midge (Micole Mercurio) are enjoying their New Year’s Eve while eating bowls of ice cream on the couch. Elsie states, “New Year’s Eve hasn’t been the same since Guy Lombardo died,” just before we see footage of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve play on the television. As they banter, Jack (Bill Pullman) hangs up the phone in the adjacent room and says, “Pop, we got the Van Allen estate.” Just after, its revealed to the room that Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is pregnant.
Bad Teacher (2011)
Bad Santa has Christmas on lockdown, but Bad Teacher gets to celebrate New Year’s Eve. While most of these top moments feature Dick Clark himself, this more recent nod includes a shot of Ryan Seacrest. Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is alone on New Year’s Eve, slumped over eating a corndog dipped in mustard on her couch. She watches TV and we see a glimpse of Seacrest hosting the festivities in Times Square.
One True Thing (1998)
This drama stars Renee Zellweger as a career-driven woman who finds herself re-evaluating her parents’ lives when she’s forced to care for her cancer-stricken mother. Ellen (Zellweger) and her family gather in the living room with champagne as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve counts down to the new year in the background. Ellen muses, “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we could just admit to our failures — the things that we f—ed up on?” She goes on to talk about all her failures over the past year, and her brother Brian (Tom Everett Scott) follows suit, letting their ailing mother, Kate (Meryl Streep), know that he got a job and doesn’t want to go back to school. Happy for him, the scene closes with Kate looking on as the TV screen flashes “Happy New Year 1998” during the Dick Clark broadcast.