"Any event that features an annual segment where you wheel out an elderly stroke victim is, by definition, not rockin'," said Cary Bernstein of the firm Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky. "I'm just saying."
Critics have generally conceded that the special has been less rockin' since Clark's 2004 stroke and the 2005 addition of co-host Ryan Seacrest, who has not had a stroke, say experts. But the lawsuit argues that the special has actually never been rockin', with the possible exception of 1973 when it was hosted by Three Dog Night.
And even then, "after Mama Told Me Not To Come, it was all downhill," says Bernstein.
The suit reads: "The plaintiffs hereby allege that, A) New Year's Rockin' Eve has perpetuated a decades-long fraud upon the American people, promising them an experience that is, quote, rockin', but that in fact has failed to live up to its promotional assertions, and, B) such failures have led to actionably unsatisfactory New Year's Eves for millions of Americans."
The suit seeks compensatory damages of $600 million.
Among the first to sign on to the suit were members of the Chess Lovers of San Bernadino, a California hobbyist group, who say their gatherings to watch the specials have inevitably ended in guests losing interest and being forced to engage in awkward small talk.
"And last year it got even worse when all our Zunes crashed," said Neal Smerlitz, who plans the group's annual New Year's Eve gala. "We had to turn up the TV volume, and after a half hour listening to [co-host] Kellie Pickler, several of our members suffered seizures."