While Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest dissertate on the big ball drop for ABC, Carson Daly will oversee all things "Auld Lang Syne" on behalf of the Peacock Network on NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly, a Chevrolet-sponsored special kicking off at 11:30 pm/ET and featuring appearances by funny lady Wanda Sykes, oh-so-straight man Brian Williams and the artist now known as Diddy, as well as a live performance by Mary J. Blige. Here's what the man TV Guide once called "the Pied Piper of Generation Y" had to tell us about his hot Dec. 31 date, the "new" Last Call, "My Humps," Britney's blossoming and more!
TVGuide.com: How soon into the year do you start prepping for the New Year's Eve special? Like, January 2?
Carson Daly: We've been prepping for it for a couple of months now.
TVGuide.com: How much involvement do you have in the planning?
Daly: A lot, actually. This is a production that [Carson Daly Productions] does with the network, so that means I have personal involvement with not just the content and what happens on the air but the way it looks and the overall creative [approach]. Last year we did a special that was kind of like triple-A [league baseball]. Now I feel like we've stepped up to the big leagues.
TVGuide.com: The press kit promises "commentary from prominent figures such as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and hip-hop icon Diddy." Do you think those two have ever worked together before?
Daly: [Laughs] I've never seen Brian Williams dance, if that's what you mean. But "no," and they won't necessarily be a two-man show. They'll be doing stuff for us individually.
TVGuide.com: Does it kind of suck to have to work every New Year's Eve? Or does NBC make it worth your while?
Daly: That's a good question. No, not really. I enjoy having a job, you know. The phases of my career have come in such waves, ones that I am constantly reminded of — bartending, valet parking, working in restaurants — that when NBC asks me to work on New Year's Eve, I'm thrilled.
TVGuide.com: Are we at the point yet where your friends know better than to invite you out? "Hey, Carson, I'm having a great New Year's bash in Tulsa!"
Daly: Right, exactly! When I went to NBC and got the late-night show, [hosting a New Year's Eve special] was one of the other [things] I told them I had a lot of interest in, in building this franchise there with the network, and they agreed. Hopefully, I'll never have a free New Year's Eve. I think the night when I'm at that party in Tulsa, it means I've done something wrong.
TVGuide.com: Your late-night show, Last Call with Carson Daly, switched coasts this fall. What has been different about doing the show in Los Angeles?
Daly: I have a tan, which has been great.
TVGuide.com: Is it easier to get guests?
Daly: You know, that's everybody's first thought, and that really had nothing to do with it. We did very well with guests when we were in New York shooting on the SNL set, so we haven't noticed too much of a difference with that in the two or three months we've been here. But the overall vibe of working on the lot at NBC and having our own studio [is different]. We were sort of squatting on the SNL set, and would have to clear out stuff [each week]. The permanent set we have [in Los Angeles], and the room itself, is built for television. When people walk in, they're clearly there to see a late-night show and not this makeshift "hybrid." [Laughs] It's been great, I'm having a tremendous time. I feel more comfortable on this set in Los Angeles than I did in New York.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about your syndicated radio show, Carson Daly's Most Requested. Are you sick of "My Humps," or what?
Daly: [Laughs, then clears throat] I'm sick of a lot of songs, I've got to be honest. But I'm not quite sick of that one yet.
TVGuide.com: Having hosted MTV's TRL during its formative years, when you see someone like Britney Spears getting married and having kids, are you like, "Aww, I remember when she was just a puppy!"
Daly: You have no idea, I can't tell you how old I feel. I've known Britney in particular since she was, like, 15, when she first came on the scene. It's amazing to me how quickly time goes by. I sort of feel like we were all in high school together, Britney and Christina [Aguilera] and Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit and the Backstreet Boys and me. That whole time at TRL was like a soap opera in which they were all the characters. It's really great to see "Where are they now?" I'm happy for Britney — she's turned out all right.
TVGuide.com: As an executive producer now for TRL, is there anything you can do about the sidewalk full of screaming meemies who hamper my brisk walk to the bus station after work each night?
Daly: [Laughs] It's funny because [when I was host] I would go to lunch at MTV and people who work upstairs at 1515 Broadway — even those from, like, the 50th floor! — would give me the nastiest look. "Ugh, your show! I can't do my work with all the people screaming!" I was like, "I'm sorry!"