Despite this year’s challenges, Ryan Seacrest says ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ will rock on: “The show is always going to happen”

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Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest airs on ABC Friday night, but on Wednesday, two of the stars scheduled to perform in New York’s Times Square — LL Cool J and Chloe — pulled out, LL due to a positive COVID test. Ryan Seacrest, however, says the show must go on.

“In our minds, the show is always going to happen. There’s always going to be a ball that drops, whether there are people there or not. I think we learned that last year!” he tells ABC Audio. 

And while there will only be a quarter of the usual crowd in Times Square, Ryan notes, “Over these years…we’ve faced real challenges and we still turn the page and a new year still starts.”

As for the loss of two marquee performers, Ryan explains, “Over the years, there have been situations where we thought…a performer couldn’t make it in or they weren’t going to be able to get there to perform. So we are trained to know how to react to last-minute changes.”

“We’re going to pivot — we’re going to put Journey” — a previously announced Time Square performer “in [LL Cool J’s] spot,” Ryan adds. “We have enough performers and enough different moving parts that the show will always fill any gap.”

This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary, and first-time co-host Liza Koshy says the show will “commend the incredibleness that Dick Clark began.”

“There are so many clips that we have that we’re playing back from the ’80s, ’90s, 2000s…it’s been an incredible journey,” she says. And with additional performances in L.A., Puerto Rico and New Orleans, Liza  notes, “People are going to be tuning in to just layers of performance and entertainment the whole night!”

As for why New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is still rockin’ 50 years later, Ryan says, “There’s a mixture of nostalgia and relevance…[It’s] a part of our DNA as kids…and also an extreme relevance when you look at the artists that are performing.”

This year, those artists include Ciara, Billy Porter, Måneskin, Avril Lavigne, AJR, Travis Barker, Polo G, Walker Hayes, Daddy Yankee, OneRepublic and many more.

Those things, he adds, will “hopefully continue to make this the franchise that it is for another 50 years!”

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‘Jagged Little Pill’ musical to permanently close on Broadway amid new COVID-19 surge

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The Broadway lights are permanently going dark for the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill, based on her landmark 1995 album of the same name.

Amid the new COVID-19 surge caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, producers confirmed the sad news on Tuesday.

“We are dismayed by what appears to be another substantial public health crisis, and – due to the detection of multiple positive Covid-19 cases within the company – need to prioritize the health and safety of the cast, crew, and entire team working on Jagged Little Pill,” the statement read. “In light of the extreme uncertainty ahead of us this winter, and forced to choose between continuing performances and protecting our company, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our doors.”

The producers assured the two-time Tony Award-winning musical will live on by other means and referenced a production that recently opened in Australia.  “We also hope and intend to find a way to bring this vibrant and vitalizing musical back to the Broadway stage, once the current crisis is past, but at this time we are in the unfortunate position to determine Friday, December 17, 2021 as the final Broadway performance of Jagged Little Pill,” they added.

Jagged Little Pill is currently the only musical to permanently dim its lights on the Great White Way amid this new COVID-19 surge, but other musicals have announced temporary closures, including Hamilton, Aladdin, Hadestown and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

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The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith dead at 78

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Michael Nesmith, singer/guitarist and songwriter for The Monkees who went on to become a respected songwriter, producer, and a pioneer in the nascent field of music video, has died at the age of 78.

The Monkees’ manager, Andrew Sandoval, confirmed the news on Facebook, writing, “It is with deep sadness that I mark the passing of Michael Nesmith. We shared many travels and projects together over the course of 30 years, which culminated in a Monkees farewell tour that wrapped up only a few weeks ago.”

“That tour was a true blessing for so many. And in the end I know that Michael was at peace with his legacy which included songwriting, producing, acting, direction and so many innovative ideas and concepts,” Sandoval continued. “I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved.”

“Nez expressed the highest part of his being through his voice,” Sandoval wrote. “And you could get no closer to him then through knowing his work. May all those who loved him feel his comfort at this time – just listen and he will be there for you.”

He ended by posting a quote from Nesmith’s song “I’ll Remember You”: “Thank you for the times you gave me, thank you for the tears you saved me, please take this song as my thanks to you.”

Nesmith’s family told Rolling Stone in a statement, “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes. We ask that you respect our privacy at this time and we thank you for the love and light that all of you have shown him and us.”

The death of Nesmith, known on the show for his omnipresent wool hat, leaves Micky Dolenz as the only living member of The Monkees. Fellow members Davy Jones and Peter Tork died in 2012 and 2019, respectively.

Along with Jones, Tork and Dolenz, Nesmith answered an ad which led them to be cast in The Monkees TV show, which ran from 1966-68 on NBC. Initially dubbed the “Pre-Fab Four,” The Monkees soon out-paced The Beatles on the charts, scoring number-one albums and a string of hit singles. However, the four Monkees — especially Nesmith — were frustrated by not having complete creative control over their music. 

When The Monkees finally gained that control, their chart success continued for a while longer, but after the show in ended in 1968, the group split in 1969. Nesmith then formed the First National Band and released three albums that are now considered pioneering examples of country rock. He also had success as a producer and as a songwriter: He wrote the hit “Different Drum” for Linda Ronstadt‘s band The Stone Poneys, plus songs for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Lynn Anderson.

In 1974, Nesmith founded the multimedia firm Pacific Arts, which released records, tapes and cassettes, but then moved into the new field of home video.  Nesmith created a video clip for his song “Rio,” and then turned the idea into a TV show called PopClips for Nickelodeon. When PopClips was sold to Time Warner/Amex in 1980, the idea was developed into MTV.  Ironically, it was MTV that spurred a Monkees revival in the ’80s by re-running the old NBC series.

Nesmith continued to work in the video field and won the first-ever Grammy awarded for music video for his 1982 music and comedy collection, Elephant Parts. That led to a 1985 series on NBC called Michael Nesmith in Television Parts, which featured then-unknowns like Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Whoopi Goldberg and Garry Shandling.

Nesmith, who’d inherited half his mother’s $50 million estate in 1980 — she invited Liquid Paper — didn’t join Tork, Dolenz and Jones for the successful 1986 Monkees tour and subsequent 1987 album, Pool It!.  But in 1996, he rejoined his band mates for their album Justus, and participated in a TV special and U.K. tour.  After Jones died in 2012, Nesmith continued to work with Dolenz and Tork.

Nesmith’s final show took place last month at LA’s Greek Theater, as part of a farewell tour he did with Dolenz, The tour were booked on The Beach Boys Cruise in early 2022.

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Janet Hubert brought to tears by standing ovation at Will Smith book tour event in New York City

Will Smith and Janet Hubert from season 1 of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank

The emotional highlight of Will Smith‘s appearance Tuesday night in New York City to promote his self-titled memoir was the thunderous ovation received by one of the original stars of The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirJanet Hubert.

The actress left the series in 1993, after three seasons in the role of Aunt Viv, and was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid. Since then, Hubert had a bitter public feud with Smith for over 25 years, but finally made peace last year on the show’s 30th anniversary reunion on HBO Max. During Will Smith: An Evening of Stories with Friends at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, hosted by Spike Lee, the rapper/actor introduced Hubert, who was sitting in the audience.

“The original Aunt Viv! Get your flowers! Take it in! Take that in!,” Smith said as the 65-year-old actress cried while acknowledging a standing ovation.

“Janet and I a few months ago at the 30th anniversary of The Fresh Prince, for the first time [we] talked out the issues we had and it was one of the most healing experiences of my life,” Smith continued. “It was a big part of the place that working on this memoir got me into.” 

“I just want to thank you, Janet, for being open,” the King Richard star added, blowing her multiple kisses of thanks. “That’s a big part of the exploration I wanted to do in this book.”

“I will remember this moment for the rest of my life,” Hubert commented on Instagram. In words addressed to Will, she wrote, “You have grown into such a gracious, and humble man. So proud of you baby boy…yeah I know you are a grown a** man now. But you always felt like a son. Still do. Thank you sweetheart, luv you!”


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Dolly Parton will reunite with her old co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin on the final season of ‘Grace and Frankie’

Credit: Stacie Huckeba

The 9 to 5 gang is finally getting back together. Dolly Parton just announced that she’ll be a guest star on the seventh and final season of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, which stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

The reunion is a long time coming: The trio of stars have held dreams of working on a project together again ever since their successful 1980 film. Early in 2021, Dolly revealed on U.K. talk show Lorraine that she’s been trying to find a time to guest star on Grace and Frankie “for years.”

“We worked so well on 9 to 5, [and] it’s a crazy, wonderful show,” the singer says. “We’ve been trying to write me in somehow. When it’s safe for us to actually do a production…I’ll probably get around to doing that.”

No further details about Dolly’s character on the show are available at this time. The first four episodes of Season 7 are available to watch on Netflix now, and the remainder of the season — including Dolly’s appearance — will air in 2022.

Grace and Frankie centers around the unlikely friendship that develops between two women after their respective husbands leave them to marry each other. When it wraps at the end of this season, it’ll make history as the longest-running ever Netflix original series, with a total of 94 episodes.

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Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” being “reimagined” into new film scripted by Tony nominee

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Can you imagine The Bodyguard starring anyone but Whitney Houston?  Hollywood can.  A “reimagining” of the 1992 romantic drama co-starring Kevin Costner is currently underway, reports Variety.

Tony nominee Matthew López, who wrote the critically acclaimed play The Inheritance, has been tapped to write the film, which will be “inspired” by the original, which grossed more than $400 worldwide.  Its soundtrack, featuring “I Will Always Love You” and other hits, is among the most successful movie soundtracks of all time.

The new film is being produced by, among others, Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote and produced the original film.  According to Variety, the project has been in the works since 2011, and the actors whose names have been floated to star in it include Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, and Channing Tatum and Cardi B.  So far, nobody has actually been cast in the film.

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