Ryan Seacrest, <EM>Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve</EM> Ryan Seacrest, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve

Who to watch, who to watch, as your watch ticks toward midnight on Dec. 31? Of course, no one can be faulted for defaulting to ABC's tried-and-true Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2006, which begins at 10 pm/ET. Although the ageless entertainer was MIA last year (having suffered a stroke just weeks prior), he is now back, to be joined in Times Square by American Idol's Ryan Seacrest, while teen queen Hilary Duff oversees things on the West Coast feed. "I think it was important in Dick's mind that his first appearance back [on TV] would be on his own show," says Seacrest. "This is his party and I have been invited to his party, so I'm going to operate in whatever capacity he wants me to." Here is what Seacrest had to tell TVGuide.com about his new New Year's gig, Dick Clark's antiaging serum and the forthcoming take-no-prisoners season of Idol.

TVGuide.com: So, I just got off the phone with your "arch enemy" Carson Daly, who has his own New Year's Eve show....
Ryan Seacrest:
He's not my enemy. [Laughs] We're both just squirrels looking for a nut in this business.

TVGuide.com: I can't goad you into some smack-talking?
I am 159 lbs. and about 5' 9" — I don't talk a lot of smack; that's not my style. I really don't know what Carson is planning on doing, we've been so focused on putting this show together. We've added some great things, including a live performance by Mariah Carey. This is the first time in the history of Dick's show that they've done a live performance in Times Square, leading up to the ball drop, so we're excited about that. She's the biggest artist of the year, just nominated for eight Grammy awards, and she will be right there in the middle of the action.

TVGuide.com: Performing live live?
Live. Live, live, live.

TVGuide.com: Is it safe to say that when the ball drops, you'll declare, "2005... out!"?
[Laughs] I don't know if in 2006 I'll be saying "out" ever. It's become too much of a catchy headline — for the negative!

TVGuide.com: How long has this year's Rockin' Eve been in the planning?
In terms of my official involvement, it was probably about six months ago. As I did [2004's New Year's Eve Live from Times Square with Ryan Seacrest, on Fox], obviously I looked to Dick Clark, the king of New Year's Eve, and what he has done in years past. But it really is one of those things where you think in this dream world, "Wouldn't it be great if I could work with him and do the show?" Not do a show somewhere else, but be involved in the show that really encompasses what New Year's Eve is all about.

TVGuide.com: When do you think Dick will share with you the secret to his antiaging serum? Has he discussed any timetable?
It was very astute of you not to call it a cream because a serum is what he recommends. He thinks the creams are too thick and clog your pores. He definitely recommends a serum over a cream.

TVGuide.com: As the host of two radio shows — On Air with Ryan Seacrest and American Top 40 — and in light of everything going on with Howard Stern and the growth of satellite radio, do you agree that the playing field is changing?
Oh, absolutely, there's no doubt about it. The playing field is changing. I tend to think that any time there is evolution in an industry such as ours, it's an opportunity. For me, I like the fact that there is other opportunity, more competition. There is now so much more that anybody in the radio business can do because there are several different ways of delivering content.

TVGuide.com: Given American Idol's popularity, I'm surprised you haven't guest-starred more on episodic TV. Is it simply not your cup of tea? Do you not consider yourself an "act-or"?
Well, I'm not an actor; I struggle to make it through the scripts for my Cingular ads. [Laughs] I have been asked to guest-star, and I really am happy to make fun of myself, but the problem with scripted filming, be it a feature or sitcom, is it takes too much time. I don't have the time in a week to go to a set for more than an hour or two. So I've had to pass on some things I really wanted to do.

TVGuide.com: Lastly, can we expect any twists or tweaks to the Idol format and/or rules in this, its fifth season?
For the most part, its going to be the same format that the audience has learned to follow. The biggest change is going to be the cast of talent that we've brought back. You're going to see some personalities who are gunning for that spot. They know exactly what they need to do to win and they're not going to let anybody get in their way!