Here’s what Doft and Hall told us about the live special and what we can look forward to this Saturday night:
This is the 20th year that Anderson Cooper has hosted ‘New Year’s Eve Live’ on CNN. How has it changed in recent years?
Eric Hall: Anderson is wonderful at inviting viewers into the fun and sentiment of the night, knowing that New Year’s Eve can sometimes be a lonely experience for many. In fact, it’s why he chooses to anchor “New Year’s Eve Live” — to make sure the audience has a place to go and to fill people with hope, laughter and love. While the guests, the look of the program and the places have changed over the years, Anderson has always remained the constant. He is the heart and soul of the broadcast.
What are some of your favorite/craziest moments?
Hall: Some memorable moments include working closely with some of the biggest celebrities and performers in Hollywood. We’ve had live tattoos and piercings on the air. There was the “umbrella” incident (when Times Square authorities wouldn’t allow Cohen or any of the media to have umbrellas), holograms, ziplines, ski slopes, hanging off The Edge at Hudson Yards, Olive Garden party crashing. How much time do you have?
Deborah Doft: Our Snoop Dogg interview is also a highlight. We have had some great music over the years — Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Duran Duran are among my favorites.
The reporters have also had some memorable moments: Richard Quest in a full “Cats” costume, Gary Tuchman interviewing DJ and producer Marshmello in Miami, Randi Kaye partying on a yacht in St. Barts and Stephanie Elam ziplining in Las Vegas with Carrot Top.
In 2017, Anderson and Andy interviewed Celine Dion live during a New Year’s Eve performance in Las Vegas, just after the shooting at the music festival there. She wanted to celebrate the resilience of the city.
What goes into setting up such a major event in the middle of Times Square?
Hall: The New York team that sets up the Times Square production is a talented group of video and audio engineers, photojournalists, producers and site coordinators. Linh Tran, Aaron Cooper and Yon Pomrenze have all headed up the field production over the years and have done a terrific job working with the Times Square Alliance and New York Police Department to establish the shots you see.
The crew begins loading into the area the day before. Most importantly, they have done it in record cold, rain and the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.