Lord of the ring-ins

Clark returns for his 36th Times Square event

Four years after a stroke, Dick Clark is relishing the prospect of another New Year's Eve, determined to help host his 36th celebration from New York.

Clark, who turned 79 last month and has been in front of the cameras for 61 years, said in a recent interview by e-mail that his appearance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2009," diminished though it may be, is a labor of love and "not really a job."

"Obviously, I'm not able to be as actively involved as I used to be out on the street, up on a platform and interacting with the crowds in Times Square," Clark wrote. "Thank goodness my friend Ryan Seacrest is able to handle that end."

ABC's 31/2-hour live extravaganza tonight will include performances by Natasha Bedingfield, Fall Out Boy, Jesse McCartney, Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls, Solange and Robin Thicke. Fergie hosts the Hollywood segments.

Clark woke up with right-side paralysis Dec. 6, 2004 — "Your life changes overnight," he said. (Regis Philbin filled in for Clark on the show that year.) Clark still uses a walker or wheelchair, and speaking is difficult.

"I am one of the fortunate ones who survived and have been minimally impaired, so I'm just thankful I'm still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat of bringing in the new year," he wrote.

The "American Bandstand" icon and longtime producer of the American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Golden Globes has long considered these shows "my television kids."

He also has watched their ratings plummet in recent years.

"There was a time when they attracted a huge audience," Clark wrote. "The audiences have dropped off as the years have gone by because of increasing television competition.

"What we are seeing is more and more talent and less emphasis on people getting awards. Television's award shows have now become gigantic showcases for variety."

These days, Clark divides his time between his Malibu home and Burbank office. There's an hourlong therapy session each morning, then he answers mail and phone calls, attends meetings and reads.

The day ends with his wife Kari.

"My wife and I may join friends for dinner at a restaurant, attend a movie or just grab a bite to eat by ourselves away from home," Clark wrote. "Occasionally, we'll attend a music concert."

Jeff Wilson is a writer for the Associated Press.
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