Andrews succeeds Walter Cronkite, who has hosted the U.S. telecast for over two decades. The "Sound of Music" star told AP, "He is passing the baton this year and staying home with his family, and they asked me if I would do this special 25th anniversary program." Andrews will fly to Vienna Dec. 5 to begin production on the annual holiday special that is presented in the U.S. by "Great Performances." "As much as I will be a hostess, I will also be a tourist," she told AP. "I just think it's a lovely tradition. It's something that makes everybody feel good. The great Strauss music is so enjoyable, it all seems to fit in with the happiness of the new year."
The audience for the New Year's Day concert is expected to exceed one billion viewers. Daniel Barenboim will conduct the orchestra, and the concert will subsequently be released on DVD by Decca Classics.
Julie Andrews — who was born in Surrey, England — starred on Broadway in the original productions of The Boyfriend, My Fair Lady and Camelot, the stage version of Victor/Victoria, and in the Off-Broadway Stephen Sondheim revue, Putting It Together. She won an Academy Award for her work in "Mary Poppins" and Oscar nominations for "The Sound of Music" and "Victor/Victoria."