Q&A: Dick Clark


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Before he was synonymous with New Year's Eve, Dick Clark was the reason kids rushed home after school and did the Twist in their living rooms. On the occasion of his Daytime Emmys tribute for "American Bandstand," Clark reflects on his career, his 40-year friendship with Michael Jackson and his brush with nudity on live TV.

The Hollywood Reporter: What has been the best moment in your career?
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Dick Clark: The best was the day I (got the job) to host "American Bandstand." The most disappointing was not being able to maintain "Dick Clark's Live Wednesday," an "Ed Sullivan"-style variety show. It was originally scheduled for Sunday but was moved to midweek. It might have survived had it not been inappropriately scheduled.

THR: What was the most memorable "Bandstand" performance?

Clark: Madonna's first appearance on the show. The kids just loved her immediately. It wasn't hard to see that she was launching a huge career.

THR: Throughout your own huge career, you must have splurged now and then. When?
Clark: I suppose one of my biggest splurges in my life was the time I brought a racecar track in West Virgina. Unfortunately, every weekend of our first season was a total rain out.

THR: Have you made a lot of close friends in the business?

Clark: One of my longest friendships has been with Chuck Barris. Michael Jackson (and I) had a 40-year friendship, from the time he was just a kid to when he became the biggest star in the world. I remember the first time I interviewed an 11-year-old Michael on "Bandstand." He insisted on taking the microphone from me. When I heard the news of his passing, I thought of the photograph he signed to me as his "Second Dad."

THR: Other than photos, do you collect anything?

Clark: Unfortunately I am a pack rat. I collect everything. Photos, old bottles, pins, newspapers, magazines, records, trophies, books and antiques of all sorts. You name it, I've saved it.

THR: How about music? What's on your iPod?

Clark: A massive collection of everything, from Brazilian music to jazz, to rhythm and blues and disco.

THR: What's the funniest thing that happened to you during a live broadcast?

Clark: Several years ago, when I was hosting "New Year's Rockin' Eve" in the heart of Times Square, I couldn't figure out why the crew was giggling, rib-punching one another and pointing behind me while I was on camera. When we cut to a commercial, I was able to turn around and see what was going on. There, high atop Times Square in a fully lit office building, was a crowd of New Year's Eve celebrants who were all totally nude. It was quite a sight. Fortunately, we did not share it with our viewers.

THR: Are you an "American Idol" fan?

Clark: I have been since the beginning. My interest peaked when Carrie Underwood won the title.

THR: Who would you pick to replace Simon?

Clark: I don't think there is a substitute. He's irreplaceable.