New Year's Eve Live (CNN program)
|New Year's Eve Live|
|Starring||Anderson Cooper (2003–present)
Kathy Griffin (2007–2016)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||210 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||December 31, 2001 – present|
New Year's Eve Live is an annual New Year's Eve television special broadcast by CNN. It primarily focuses on coverage of the ball drop festivities held at New York City's Times Square while also featuring reports from festivities in other U.S. cities, and coverage of midnight festivities from a city in the Central Time Zone.
Anderson Cooper has been co-host of New Year's Eve Live since the 2002 celebration. From 2007–08 to 2016–17, comedian Kathy Griffin was also a co-host, providing bawdy comic relief; Griffin was dismissed from the program and CNN in May 2017.
The show first aired in its current format on December 31, 2001 with CNN correspondents in Times Square hosting an informal, news-based, New Year's Eve celebration show. For New Year's Eve 2002, Anderson Cooper took over as host from Times Square. It was originally 30 minutes, but expanded to 90–120 minutes starting in 2003. Originally it featured live look-ins of several concerts across the nation, but after 2006, they were eliminated. In some musical performances inside Times Square have been shown.
In contrast with other nationally broadcast New Year's Eve programs, most of which focus solely on the celebrations in New York and/or go off the air shortly after midnight eastern, New Year's Eve Live features various CNN correspondents in the United States and abroad reporting on the celebrations marking the New Year, including continuing coverage of New Year celebrations past midnight Central Time. (In 2017, New Year's Rockin' Eve expanded to include a Central Time countdown.) The Pacific Time Zone is covered only by tape-delaying the East Coast event coverage, and there is no coverage or countdown for the Mountain Time Zone. The following locations have been featured numerous times:
- Times Square
- Nashville or Memphis, and New Orleans
- Key West - Where Gary Marion (a drag queen who performs as "Sushi") rides a ruby shoe down to ring in the new year.
Among the guest correspondents over the years include Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, Ed Henry, John Zarrella, and Gary Tuchman, the last of whom typically serves as a roving reporter covering various smaller or more eccentric New Year's celebrations (in recent years alongside his daughter Lindsay Tuchman).
Unlike its broadcast competition, the current framework of the show generally focuses on straight coverage of the festivities in Times Square, and does not feature any additional entertainment (such as music performances).
On May 31, 2017, CNN cut its ties with Griffin after she had posted a photo depicting her holding a false, decapitated head of U.S. president Donald Trump. A CNN spokesperson described her photo as "disgusting and offensive", while Cooper himself condemned the photo by stating that it was "clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate".
On December 31, 2003, Anderson Cooper hosted, joined by Jason Carroll (street reports), Hugh Hefner (at the Playboy Mansion), Cyndi Lauper, Wyclef Jean, Ben Stein, Amazing Kreskin, The Flaming Lips, John Zarrella (Key West), Kendis Gibson (Elma, New York, where a resident had won a write-in contest to have the show come to her New Year party, which in her case also was a graduation and going-away party for her son), and live look-ins at celebrations in other cities.
On December 31, 2005, Anderson Cooper hosted from Times Square, with Erica Hill reporting from the crowd on the street. John Zarrella reported from Key West, Betty Nguyen was in Chicago, and Susan Roesgen was in New Orleans, which was recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Musical performances included James Brown at B.B. King's blues club in Times Square, John Mayer Trio in San Francisco, Barenaked Ladies at St. Pete Times Forum, Brooks & Dunn in Nashville, Fantasia at The Aladdin in Las Vegas, Kool & the Gang, and Wynton Marsalis. Harry Connick, Jr. did special feature on New Orleans, while Chef Paul Prudhomme joined for cooking segment also in New Orleans.
On December 31, 2006, New Year's Live with Anderson Cooper featured a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls in Anaheim, California, and Montgomery Gentry at Rupp Arena. James Brown was scheduled to perform a song live, but he died on December 25.
For the program on December 31, 2007, comedian Kathy Griffin joined Anderson Cooper as co-host for the 90-minute show. The two immediately developed a unique rapport, which featured discussion about pop culture events and off-beat new stories from the year. Griffin actively engaged Cooper in various personal questions and rumors, and often steered the program off-track from Cooper's normal straight-laced broadcasting style. Griffin also initiated an annual drinking game for each time she addressed Cooper as "Andy."
Erica Hill reported from street level in the crowd in Time Square, Kiran Chetry reported from Hard Rock Cafe, Gary Tuchman took part in the "Midnight Run" in Central Park, and John Zarrella reported from Key West. Sean Callebs (New Orleans) and Kareen Wynter (Las Vegas) also joined for segments.
For the program on December 31, 2008, comedian Kathy Griffin joined Anderson Cooper as co-host for the second year, this year expanded to two hours. Griffin spent much of the night responding to hecklers. As the show was going to commercial she responded to a heckler by saying "I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth." She also asked if she could "get a pap smear from Dr. Sanjay Gupta," to which Cooper responded "Really, are we going there already?" She later called Glenn Beck a "heroin addict Mormon." She asked Cooper if he had ever "ridden the Morning Express" (a reference to Robin Meade whom Griffin claimed Cooper was "in love with").
Don Lemon and Erica Hill reported from street level and Gary Tuchman from the Midnight Run in Central Park. Brooke Anderson reported from Las Vegas, Sean Callebs reported from New Orleans, and John Zarrella reported from Key West. White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported from Hawaii, following president-elect Obama on vacation.
During the December 31, 2009 episode, Kathy Griffin drew controversy after saying "fuck" live on the air. During a segment where Cooper and Griffin were recounting pop culture events of the year, the subject of the Balloon Boy was brought up. During an exchange, Griffin said "Wait … Falcon? Fuckin'? Falcon? How do you say it?" Cooper quickly responded "You're terrible," and quickly switched to a new topic. Griffin then joked about having 'a lesbian three-way with Susan Boyle and Oprah,' and said she was engaged to Levi Johnston. She also asked Cooper "how do you not just stare in the mirror all day and pleasure yourself because you're so gorgeous?"
Lance Bass joined the show as a correspondent at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow served as street reporters, interviewing patrons in Times Square. John Zarrella reported live from Key West, and Gary Tuchman from Central Park.
Despite rumors that Kathy Griffin had been banned from CNN, she returned for her fourth year on December 31, 2010. The 90-minute program featured Cooper and Griffin hosted in Times Square, with Brooke Baldwin reporting live in Nashville, John Zarrella in Key West and Gary Tuchman again participating in the "Midnight Run" in Central Park. Isha Sesay reported from the crowd in Times Square.
Among the random discussions were Griffin's visit with Cher, and a live phone call from Cooper's mother Gloria Vanderbilt. Griffin maintained her typical antics, at one point kissing a crew member, and pretended to start undressing Cooper. However, she completed the broadcast without saying any swear words.
On December 31, 2011 Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin hosted for the fifth year. CNN correspondents included: Isha Sesay (street reports), Gary Tuchman and his 14-year-old daughter (Central Park run), John Zarrella (Key West), Brooke Baldwin and Marty Savidge (Nashville).
Anderson Cooper took part in a pre-recorded skit involving the Spider-Man Broadway show. Immediately thereafter, Griffin ridiculed it as being lame and unfunny. The program featured phone calls from Kelly Ripa and David Gergen. Kathy Griffin's antics reached a point at 11:48 p.m. where she took her coat and shirt off and appeared on-air wearing only a bra. During the telecast, Cooper joked with her with a sign from the crew stating "No Nudity" and "No Swearing," based on her previous appearances. Griffin also said to Anderson "I'm [going to] watch your balls drop," a double entendre of the popular phrase "watch the ball drop." She poked fun at ChristianMingle.com (an online dating service), kissed Cooper on the lips (which apparently left him uncomfortable), and claimed that Mayor Michael Bloomberg "fondled" Lady Gaga on the ball drop podium after they kissed.
On December 31, 2012 Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin returned for their sixth year together. The program aired from 10:00 PM EST to 1:00 AM. Correspondents joining the broadcast included Isha Sesay (Times Square), John Zarrella (Key West), Gary Tuchman (Eastport, Maine), Brooke Baldwin (New Orleans) and Susan Hendricks (Nashville). Griffin's usual antics continued as at one point she dropped to her knees near Cooper's crotch, and also asked him "do you have a sac?" Cooper replied, "I don't know what you're talking about, I have no sack of Christmas presents here."
On the 2013-2014 broadcast, Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin hosted their seventh consecutive year together. The program aired live from 9 p.m. through 12:30 a.m. EST. It was the first year the program began at 9 p.m. EST.
Anderson and Kathy were joined on set by guests: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Melissa Etheridge among others. This was John Zarella's final year with CNN, where he has featured the Drag Queen Drop in Key West, Florida for a number of years. The cast looked back at Zarella's remarkable career with the network. Tuchman reported from the Watermelon Drop in Vincennes, Indiana.
Cooper and Griffin carried the show for three and a half hours, then similar to years past, tossed to Brooke Baldwin in New Orleans at 12:30 a.m. for a 35-minute coverage of the New Year in the Central Time Zone. Baldwin along with Susan Hendricks shared a live music performance with Hank Williams Jr.
In 2013, the hashtag associated with the program #CNNNYE trended on Twitter from 9 p.m. EST through midnight.
Cooper and Griffin co-hosted New Year's Eve live on December 31, 2014 live from New York's Times Square. The program aired from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. eastern, the longest running time ever for the duo. Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin hosted from 12:30-1:05 a.m. eastern, ringing in the Central Time Zone's New Year from New Orleans. Griffin's antics were tame compared to previous years, as her only trick of the night was to put red and blue dye in Cooper's gray hair.
Richard Quest was scheduled to report live from the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship off the coast of The Bahamas; although he was called back to New York to cover the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash. Quest instead reported from street level in Times Square. In his place on the cruise ship was CNN correspondent Randi Kaye. Gary Tuchman was scheduled to report live from the 'Crab Drop' in Easton, Maryland, but he was sent to Indonesia on assignment for the AirAsia crash. His daughter, Lindsay Tuchman, a reporter for CNN affiliate WBOC (located in Salisbury, Maryland which is near Easton) reported in his place.
Michaela Pereira joined Quest as reporter on the street in Times Square. This was the first time in four years that Isha Sesay did not partake in the coverage. Patrick Oppman reported from Havana, and Pamela Brown reported from Memphis. Though no reporters were present, footage was shown from Key West.
Cooper and Griffin were back for their ninth year on December 31, 2015. The duo hosted an extra hour, beginning at 8 p.m. eastern time, starting the broadcast from their "NYE war room", a hotel suite at the New York Marriott Marquis. Poppy Harlow contributed from Times Square, instead of Rio de Janeiro, following her on-air faint scare. Richard Quest assumed her position in Brazil. Randi Kaye reported from Memphis, where cameras caught the celebration as the city's "Guitar Drop" was briefly stalled due to a guest placing their hand through the track for the 10 foot guitar to be lowered. Gary Tuchman and his daughter Lindsay Tuchman reported from Hershey, Pennsylvania from the "Hershey's Kiss Raise." Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin shared festivities from New Orleans.
At 8:47 p.m., as Cooper and Griffin were walking down to street level in Times Square, Griffin removed her coat and for part of the evening, appeared on-screen wearing only a bra. Don Lemon subsequently commented "I have to say: nice rack." Guests on stage included Jessie J ("Bang Bang") and Gus Kenworthy. In addition, Dana Bash appeared with Griffin in a pre-recorded skit. The night was filled with memories from the year, clips from their previous New Year's Eve broadcasts, and a video of Griffin doing the Ice Bucket Challenge nude. Griffin spray tanned Anderson's face.
Cooper and Griffin returned for their tenth year on December 31, 2016. The program aired from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Eastern time. Reporters included Richard Quest (Times Square); Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin (New Orleans); Nischelle Turner (Nashville); Gary Tuchman and Lindsay Tuchman (Miami); Randi Kaye (cruise ship) and Lynn Smith (Dallas). Lemon and Baldwin took over as hosts at 12:30 a.m. to cover the central time zone countdown. Keith Urban performed.
Cooper and Griffin received well-wishes from numerous celebrities, including Sharon Stone, Dave Grohl, Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, and Ron Jeremy. Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman sent a video clip in which both appeared to be naked, inviting the duo to "join us in our bed...for some sex." Griffin wrapped Cooper in aluminium foil to celebrate their tenth anniversary together (tin/aluminum foil is the "traditional" 10th anniversary gift). With Griffin's typical antics muted, the critical attention for the night focused on Don Lemon, who during his on-air segments was drunk, and at one point during the evening, had one of his ears pieced on live television.
CNN International's simulcast of the event was significantly cut back to give way to breaking news coverage of the Istanbul nightclub shooting, with Cyril Vanier anchoring from the CNN Center in Atlanta. CNNI joined New Year's Eve Live at 11:00 PM ET.
In May 2017, Griffin was fired from the program and CNN after she had released a controversial publicity photo which depicted her with a decapitated head of U.S. president Donald Trump. CNN has not yet revealed future plans for the special.
The episode from December 31, 2008 rated as the top New Year's Eve program on cable. However, for 2009–2011, the program fell to second behind Fox News Channel's "All American New Years." In 2011, CNN slightly edged FNC in the key demographics. In 2013, the show saw a 40% drop in its audience.
In 2015, the program was the #1 cable news program in total viewers in the half-hour leading up to midnight. In 2016, the program soared to a new viewership record. it was the #1 cable program for the hour and a half surrounding midnight, and the #2 program behind Fox News Channel for the entire program duration (including the primetime segments).
- 2008: 2.311 million viewers (11-1)
- 2009: 1.673 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.)
- 2010: 1.532 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.) 
- 2011: 1.605 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.), 1.869 million (12:00-1:00 a.m.)
- 2012: 2.111 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.)
- 2013: 1.426 million (9-12:30), 1.726 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.)
- 2014: 1.993 million (11 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.)
- 2015: 2.87 million viewers (11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.)
- 2016: 1.32 million viewers (8:00-11:00 p.m.), 3.04 million (11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m), 2.12 million (12:30-1:00 a.m.)
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