Actress Lucy Hale, who previously hosted coverage of New Orleans festivities during this special, gets an upgrade this year to co-host from the plum Times Square location with host Ryan Seacrest, who returns for his 15th year in this gig. Emmy and Tony Award winner Billy Porter (“Pose,” “Kinky Boots”) picks up the Big Easy coverage from Hale. As far as West Coast coverage after the ball drops in New York, Ciara returns for her third time to anchor those events from Los Angeles.
Anderson Cooper has been hosting his cable news network’s New Year’s Eve coverage from Times Square in New York since 2002, and for the third consecutive year Cooper’s real-life BFF — Bravo network executive Andy Cohen — will provide half of the banter. Anticipated performers and guests include Christina Aguilera, Lenny Kravitz, Shania Twain, Patti LaBelle, Keith Urban and comic Dulcé Stone, among others. After the ball drops at midnight, the guys turn over coverage to CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon in Nashville, Tenn.
Most people probably would agree with the suggestion that 2019 was a pretty intense year, especially in terms of political developments, but thankfully “Today” co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager employ a light touch as they page through the year’s headlines in this new two-hour year-end special. Expect moments of undeniable poignancy, mixed with exhilarating stories of triumph (see: gymnast Simone Biles, among others). There also will be plenty of laughs, courtesy of such celebrity guests as Kristen Bell.
Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk (“The Band’s Visit”), who will star later this season in a gender-blind Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company,” makes her New York Philharmonic debut as guest vocalist in this celebration of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-lyricist behind such hits as “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods.” Longtime Sondheim collaborator Paul Gemignani conducts orchestral suites from the shows; frequent Sondheim leading lady Bernadette Peters is host.