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Dick Clark ready to rock on New Year's

Longtime host says ‘Rockin' Eve’ show will be his coming-out party
/ Source: The Associated Press

As he has for decades, Dick Clark is planning to let his TV work speak for itself — and for him.

The 76-year-old Clark, the focus of increasing speculation as his annual New Year’s Eve hosting gig draws closer, has shunned public appearances and interviews since a stroke nearly 13 months ago.

Thursday, responding to reports questioning if he is healthy enough to work, the “American Bandstand” icon said through a spokesman that he’s looking at “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” airing live on ABC, as his personal coming-out celebration.

“He’s in New York. He’s going to be on TV Saturday,” Clark publicist Paul Shefrin said from New York as he fielded still another request for an interview with the man known as America’s oldest teenager.

“He just wants the show to be the coming out party,” Shefrin noted.

“He’s walking and talking as he has been for months. He’s looking forward to doing the show Saturday,” Shefrin added, saying Clark will welcome the new year as he always has — kissing his wife, Kari.

Clark and co-host Ryan Seacrest are set to welcome in 2006 from New York’s Times Square. Mariah Carey will perform.

Clark suffered a stroke on Dec. 6, 2004, and was hospitalized for more than seven weeks at a Burbank hospital, forcing him to cancel as host of last year’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” Regis Philbin filled in and Clark promised to be back this year.

“It will be good to be back in New York again for New Year’s and I’m elated that Ryan has agreed to join me in ushering in New Year’s,” Clark said in a statement months ago.

Recent tabloid photographs showing Clark using a walker are months old, Shefrin said.

“He’s doing fine. He’s walking. He’s talking,” the publicist said. “He’ll keep doing some rehab stuff. He wants to get close to perfect.”

Seacrest, who is making his debut as “New York’s Rockin’ Eve” co-host, said earlier that Clark “is one of the most driven and focused individuals on the planet.”

“And so when he puts his mind to something and when he wants to do something like this television show and be there for everybody to see him, he’ll do it,” Seacrest said.

“New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which Clark originated in 1972, will air on ABC starting at 10 p.m. (EST and PST) Saturday.