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Champagne, confetti and the remote: How to celebrate New Year’s Eve on TV

Colorful projections on Los Angeles City Hall were seen by thousands at NYELA 2019 in Grand Park.
Spectators who gathered in L.A.'s Grand Park for 2019’s New Year’s Eve festivities were treated to projections on City Hall. This year the event will be virtual.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Restaurants and clubs — well, most of them — aren’t making New Year’s Eve party plans in SoCal in this pandemic year. Home parties to ring in the new year are fraught with peril as COVID-19 cases and deaths rise. Even New York’s Times Square isn’t inviting guests.

But some things remain consistently available as we roll toward 2021: television and its pandemic-pumped cousin, the livestream.

Here is a roundup of visual entertainment you can tap into Thursday night. So grab that bottle of bubbly and the closest remote, and pick from a lineup of New Year’s Eve specials. The dress code is ... casual.

City celebrations

Grand Park NYELA, Los Angeles: A livestream of Grand Park’s “NYELA Countdown to 2021" will begin at 11 p.m. Pacific Thursday night. The event, which last year drew 65,000 people to the park on Spring Street in DTLA, is going “global” this year due to pandemic restrictions, according to its website.

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That means no people hanging out downtown, across from L.A. City Hall, but rather DJ Steve Aoki playing a set on your TV or electronic device with his Dim Mak en Fuego artists Bia, Andrekza, 2Deep and Aquihayaquihay. DJ Eddie One and Jessica Flores host the event, which will stream globally in real time.

The show can be seen on Fuse TV (check local listings), on the Grand Park and Fuse YouTube Channels and via Music Center Offstage.

A nearly empty Times Square in New York City
New York City’s Times Square was nearly empty on Monday — and will stay that way through the traditional New Year’s Eve ball drop.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Times Square, New York City: New Year’s Eve TV viewing looks awfully familiar this year — except for the fact that nobody other than hosts, entertainers and camera crews, plus a handful of invited guests, will be hanging out in Times Square as the ball drops and “Auld Lang Syne” begins to play. But folks looking for that authentic Times Square experience can get it courtesy of the Times Square Alliance, which has been running the NYC event since 1992 and will deliver it virtually this time around.

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Singer Andra Day will conclude her set with this year’s right-before-midnight rendition of “Imagine,” and, in a nod to the nightmare known as 2020, singer Gloria Gaynor will deliver her hit “I Will Survive.” A tribute to 2020’s heroes will include on-site appearances by New York families of first responders and frontline and essential workers. And, of course, “New York, New York” will play.

The show can be streamed on mobile devices at TimesSquareNYC.org, NewYearsEve.nyc and TimesSquareBall.net. The show starts at 3 p.m. Pacific with the raising of the ball. Audiences also can watch the festivities via the TimesSquareNYC accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

National broadcast networks

Jennifer Lopez performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl in 2020.
Jennifer Lopez will headline Thursday’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” on ABC.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest”: Seacrest will host the countdown with Lucy Hale and Billy Porter in Times Square, while Ciara returns to host the party in Hollywood. Rapper Big Freedia and singer PJ Morton will host in New Orleans. Entertainers include Jennifer Lopez (debuting her song “In the Morning”), Post Malone, Jonas Bros., Paula Abdul, Megan Thee Stallion, Dan + Shay and more. President-elect Joe Biden and incoming First Lady Jill Biden will be part of the festivities too. Tune in starting at 8 p.m. on the coasts, 7 p.m. Central and Mountain.

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Fox’s “New Year’s Eve Toast and Roast 2021": Former “Community” costars and longtime friends Ken Jeong and Joel McHale will ring in the new year from Los Angeles, tape-delayed everywhere except the East Coast. The entertainment includes “The Masked Singer” winner LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan and Instagram star Doctor Elvis, plus iHeartRadio performances from John Legend, Green Day and more. There will be appearances from stars of Fox series including Morris Chestnut of “The Resident” and Tom Payne of “Prodigal Son,” and “Call Me Kat” stars Mayim Bialik and Cheyenne Jackson will do a musical number. Tune in 8-10 p.m. on the coasts, and then again from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., after a break for local news.

NBC’s “Escape From 2020": Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager will host a look back at 2020, including its “most entertaining and talked-about videos and trends.” They’ll also interview current and former NBC stars including Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Carson Kressley, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. Tune in from 8 to 10 p.m. Pacific.

“NBC’s New Year’s Eve 2021": Carson Daly hosts this countdown with Peacock star Amber Ruffin and DJ Stephen “tWitch” Boss of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Tune in from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Pacific, with a half-hour break at 11 p.m. for local news.

Anderson Cooper, left, and Andy Cohen
Anderson Cooper, left, and Andy Cohen will once again cohost CNN’s New Year’s Eve special.
(Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)
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Cable, local and miscellany

CNN: Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will team up yet again for a live New Year’s Eve broadcast from Times Square. Entertainment and appearances include John Mayer, Snoop Dogg, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, Josh Groban, Desus & Mero, Kylie Minogue, Aloe Blacc, Goo Goo Dolls, Jon Bon Jovi and — wait for it — Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” fame.

Tune in starting at 5 p.m. Pacific for Cooper and Cohen, and then Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon will take over from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. — perfect for those who can’t make it all the way to midnight. Then the whole thing repeats in abbreviated form for the West Coast from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Pacific. The event also will be livestreamed on CNN.com and the CNNgo app.

KTLA: The syndicated special “Las Vegas Countdown to 2021" will mark midnight in all four U.S. time zones and feature Vegas celebrities and entertainers. It runs from 8:58 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. and is also a fundraiser for the Souper Bowl of Caring, a nationwide effort to fight hunger.

RuPaul
RuPaul is part of New Year’s Eve festivities this year.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
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YouTube Originals: RuPaul, Matthew McConaughey, J Balvin, Bubba Wallace, Demi Lovato and Naomi Campbell are among the many who will appear in the global celebration “Hello 2021.” The show will feature content creators including the D’Amelio family and the Dolan Twins. It starts streaming at 7:30 p.m. Pacific.

Snoop Dogg’s 2021 NYE Special: The rapper’s New Year’s party — produced in conjunction with TBS and Go-Big Show — goes live at 8 p.m. Pacific, with the tune-in info being sent to people who RSVP. Oh, yeah, you have to be 21 or older. Jennifer Nettles, Rosario Dawson and others will roast the year, DJ Cassidy will lead the music (which includes live performances) and viewers will get a tour of Snoop’s compound.

Wanna buy a ticket?

All of the events listed above are free of charge. Those wishing to pay for tickets can take in livestreamed New Year’s Eve concerts and specials from the likes of Big Hit Records (home of BTS), Pink Martini, Melissa Etheridge, KISS and Justin Bieber — as well as a host of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni, 16 of whom are presenting “New Year’s Queens: Goodbye 2020.”


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