Dick Clark has dropped the ball, but Regis Philbin is picking it up. For the first time in 33 years, Clark will be unavailable to preside over the Times Square New Year's Eve festivities for his annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast on ABC, as he's recuperating from a stroke suffered last week. (Sadly, the 75-year-old's statement issued from his hospital bed last week that he expected to be fit for duty and discharged in time for New Year's Eve has proved premature.) Similarly youthful and energetic septuaganarian Philbin will host the East Coast portion of the program, while Ashlee Simpson, as announced earlier, will host the West Coast portion.
''I'm so glad that Regis hadn't yet made any New Year's plans,'' Clark said in a statement. ''It'll feel strange watching it on TV but my doctors felt it was too soon. I'm sure Regis will do a great job and I'm thankful that he was able to step in on such short notice.''