After nearly a year out of the TV spotlight, Ryan Seacrest is back in a big way.
As the newly-minted co-host of “Live! With Ryan and Kelly” and with a return to the rebooted “American Idol”, Seacrest tells The Hollywood Reporter all about his recent television rebirth, admitting it hasn’t been an easy process.
It took months of negotiations and planning to figure out exactly how the west coast-based Seacrest would juggle his priorities, including his syndicated radio commitments in California and the weekday taping of “Live!” in New York. One of the many things in the 42-year-old’s favour was his soon-to-be co-host Kelly Ripa was rooting for him as her number one pick to replace the departed Michael Strahan, following his messy exit from the show in 2016.
“He’s just so seamless that people don’t realize that what he does is actually very, very difficult,” Ripa says, describing Seacrest. As executives and lawyers worked on the details, the friends remained in close contact. “It was happening, and then it wasn’t,” Ripa explains. “Ryan and I kept calling each other and saying, ‘No matter what happens, we are still friends.'”
On April 30, Seacrest signed his contract with “Live!” and began his co-hosting duties the following day and his post “Idol” transformation had begun – or so he thought. Less than a week into his new gig, a reboot of the reality singing competition was announced.
As host of “American Idol” for 15 seasons on Fox, Seacrest said his tearful goodbyes to the long-running series after the network cancelled the show in April 2016.
“‘Idol’ was still firing on cylinders, even if it wasn’t all of the cylinders of its heyday, and it still had a fan base,” he says. “So, part of me, while not having had any real conversations about it, believed that somehow, somewhere, ‘American Idol’ would come back.”
While Fox was done with “Idol” after continuing to see its rating plummet, ABC decided to pick up the show – and they wanted Seacrest.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, producer Freemantle Media North offered Seacrest around $10 million to return to hosting, far less than he made during the show’s prime. Seacrest wanted $15 million and more creative input as an executive producer. While he was mulling over the return, he even reached out to Katy Perry, encouraging her to sign on as a judge on the show. Sure enough, Perry did sign on to the show but at a hefty $25 million price. With that much in the production budget earmarked for the pop singer, the network reportedly returned to Seacrest with an offer that was less than half of the original amount.
Insulted by the new, lower offer in the wake of Perry’s hiring, Seacrest’s reps asked that his name be withdrawn from the casting process. Blindsided by the low-ball offer by Freemantle, ABC reportedly scrambled to get Seacrest back into the negotiation process. Despite the insulting offer, Seacrest still had affection for the show that launched his career.
“I’ve always loved the show,” he says. “And if I could do it forever, I would do it forever.”
The following day, ABC countered with an offer reportedly north of $10 million and an executive producer title.
“Who am I if not the ‘American Idol’ guy?” Seacrest responds.
Auditions for the re-launched “Idol” are set to begin in August with the show schedule to debut on-air in March.