As the executive producer and host of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2023, the entertainment juggernaut, 47, rang in the new year and jumped right back into his busy schedule. His plethora of jobs include hosting the morning talk show Live with Kelly and Ryan and the 21st season of American Idol, and you can hear him on the nationally syndicated radio show On Air with Ryan Seacrest and the weekly American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest. On top of all of that, he’s a success behind the scenes, running the Emmy award-winning Ryan Seacrest Productions, which has produced multiple reality shows and has a new mystery series, The Watchful Eye, premiering on Freeform in January.
How do you stay warm in Times Square on New Year’s Eve?
I have two versions of tuxedos. One version fits me, and the other version has space in it for long underwear and thermals and extra pairs of socks and extra sweaters for underneath the jacket. I also put a very thin warm vest underneath the blazer. So if you take off the blazer, you’ll see a Patagonia-like vest underneath there. I keep it on there to create layers because it can be very cold. … We’ve had years where it’s comfortable, we’ve also had years where wind chills were sub-zero, and years recently where it’s slanted rain coming down. All of which makes it more exciting.
What do you do after the show ends?
The ball drops at midnight ... about 12:45 [a.m.], we’re still on air, I start to realize I’m hungry, and then I start thinking about the meal that will take place about 1:30 [a.m.]. I’m a foodie, so I really do think about it beforehand. It’s when my celebration begins, and I look forward to a nice, very late dinner. It’s probably 3:30 [a.m. when I go to bed] but we rehearse [Rockin’ Eve] for five hours, then we do it for five hours, so coming off 10 hours of really being on — it takes you a minute to just relax. Plus, it’s New Year’s. You want to just enjoy it for a little bit.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?
I used to make cliche resolutions. Then I started thinking … more about what are pursuits I find to be fun outside of work. I find those pursuits to be food. I’m studying olive oil and wine-making. And so with each year that goes by, I look at the calendar and try to carve out more opportunities to be around those pursuits, and be around those things that make me happy and I find more interesting and I learn from. I look at the New Year that way.
Do you have a favorite guest from any of your shows?
Kelly [Live cohost Kelly Ripa] and I joke we can’t remember who was on yesterday. There are so many people that come through the door, and with a radio show every day, and a television show every day, it’s hard for me to keep track of who was on and who’s coming up. I do love the music world, and recently had a chance to talk to Elton John about his career and the fact that he’s now got two new number one songs on the pop charts at this stage of his career. I found that to be a highlight and a fascinating conversation.
Is that coffee in your mug on the Live set?
No. I am a coffee drinker. I’m a coffee enthusiast, so I can’t have it on the show because it would be transactional. I actually like to wake up earlier, grind the beans, smell the aroma, make the coffee, pour my first and second cups before I leave my apartment in New York. Once I get to the set, I drink water and tea. Coffee is something I go to bed looking forward to in the morning. It’s one of the great simple pleasures of life. I actually travel with my coffee machine — which is just a Cuisinart — and my Cuisinart grinder, no matter what hotel I’m in. Every time I check in, they’re like, “Where would you like this luggage?” And I’m like, “It’s not my luggage, it’s my coffee machine.” I plug it in right near the bed.
Professionally, you’re walking in some big footsteps — Casey Kasem [American Top 40], Regis Philbin [Live] and Dick Clark [Rockin’ New Years Eve]. Did they offer you any advice?
The one that stands out is Dick’s [advice]. He and I talked directly a lot over the years. I first met him at his office after Season 1 of American Idol. He asked me a lot of questions actually in that meeting. I asked him, “How do we have longevity in this business?” And he said to me, “You’ve got to make it look easy. Make it look seamless. Make everyone think they can take your job in a second because they can do it. At the same time, establish some ownership of production, ownership of shows, and leverage your acres to build a company out of it.” That’s what he did. That advice was also echoed by Merv Griffin when I met him in person. Those guys, always in their own way, made it look really easy — and that's what I try to do.
You left college early to pursue your career in Hollywood. Did you ever consider going back to school?
When I left the University of Georgia, the deal I made with my parents was that I would take some classes at community college. So I did have to do that for about a year. … I have this dream of going to a real culinary school. I don’t know if I could cut it, but that’s something that’s in my head.
Your foundation [The Ryan Seacrest Foundation] has been busy building broadcast studios within pediatric hospitals to provide programming to lift patients’ spirits. Any news for 2023?
We’re opening three new studios next year. We’ll have 14 around the country at the end of 2023. We started with one in Atlanta, went to two in Philadelphia, and thought this is really big. ... I’ll dedicate more time to that excitedly next year.
You’ll turn 50 in a couple of years. How are you approaching that?
Some days I think nothing of it; other days I think everything of it. It’s a strange ebb and flow in my brain, but I do believe that once I’m at 50, it is an opportunity to take stock. It’s an opportunity to look at the things that have been great. What are the things I haven’t had a chance to do? What are the things I want to do?
What advice would you give to someone new to the business?
I always subscribed to this: I said yes to everything that came my way, and I figured out how to make it work in my schedule. To an extent, I still do that. I say yes to multiple things at once, and figure out how to maneuver them and make them work inside a schedule. I haven’t really slowed down the pace or changed the lens since the beginning.
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