Ryan Seacrest: The new primetime king?
Constance Droganes, entertainment writer, CTV.ca
Published Wednesday, August 22, 2007 12:07PM EDT
Is Ryan Seacrest becoming the Reese Witherspoon of the TV and radio biz?
With that boy-next-door appeal and a bank account topping $14 million a year according to Forbes magazine, Seacrest may not be making Reese's new $29 million-per-gig figure yet. But at just 32 years of age, Ryan Seacrest is conquering Hollywood the way Alexander the Great stormed over half the world.
An Idol in his own right
He's young, cute and confident -- a comely package that's made to order for studio execs and young American viewers who idolize the man who went from aspiring DJ at age 6 to the host of "American Idol" and, now, the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 16, 2007.
Choosing the non-comedian Seacrest to preside over the fourth most popular trophy show (behind the Oscars, Grammy Awards and Golden Globes) is a gamble, but no big surprise. Last season Seacrest hosted 29 of the 33 most-watched individual telecasts of the 2006-07 TV season. All were "American Idol" episodes and many of these live audience nail-bitters plopped Seacrest directly in the centre of cantankerous judges (namely Simon Cowell), wanna be talents aiming for stardom and a truckload of artistic egos.
The total "Seacrest" package
Then there's the seemingly endless list of projects that have thrust the workaholic Seacrest into what some might call the over-exposed zone.
Now the managing editor and lead anchor of "E!News" on the E! cable network, Seacrest is host of the radio countdown show "American Top 40" and L.A.'s No. 1 morning drive time radio show, "On Air With Ryan Seacrest." He's co-hosts "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" (a personal coup for Seacrest since Clark was one of his childhood idols). He's also a guest co-host on CNN's "Larry King Live," "The Billboard Music Awards" and the "Radio Music Awards."
In fact, last week hot-shot Seacrest added to this impressive list, becoming the official celebrity-sightings correspondent/halftime host for the next Super Bowl.
With a lightening-paced track record like that, it's no wonder that Emmy organizers are counting on the total "Seacrest" package (including his famous hair cut, that picket-fence smile and his winning on-air banter) to boost the show's TV ratings. Last year's Emmy broadcast brought in only 16 million viewers -- the second smallest audience since 1990.
While Seacrest's Emmy coup will see him cutting back on his annual red-carpet coverage for E!, he, to the surprise of many, still plans to executive-produce the networks arrival program.
So how does he do it?
That's what fans and aspiring TV personalities like Seacrest are mulling over as they spin the TV remote to catch his mad dash of appearances.
The bottom line is that this Atlanta-born native had a dream - one that has driven him since childhood and even had him handing out his own business cards by the age of 12.
From hosting the morning announcements at Dunwoody Highschool (where he graduated in 1993), to working as an evening radio host for Atlanta's WSTR at 15, Seacrest pursued fame with a vengeance. In fact, it prompted the journalism student at the University of Georgia to drop out in his freshman year when ESPN offered him the chance to host a show about athletes competing for cash prizes.
Since then, the man who idolized radio personalities like Casey Kasem bulldozed through short-lived games shows ("Gladiators 2000" and "Wild Animal Games" for Fox), has made appearances on "Beverly Hills 90120" as a fictional game show host and accepted every gig imaginable until "American Idol" came along in 2002 and turned his engaging, on-air style into a multi-million-dollar commodity.
Seacrest's career has dished out some disappointments. After launching the daily syndicated variety program, "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," in January of 2004, the show was cancelled in September of that same year due to low TV ratings.
Yet despite that setback, Seacrest has steam-rolled from up-and-coming media face to burgeoning media mogul, leaving many to wonder if the red-carpet ready personality who celebs love to gab with could one day fill the legendary shoes of the late TV giant and entrepreneur, Merv Griffin.
As Dick Askin, the chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences says, Seacrest's magic in his "appeal to a broad audience." So whether Seacrest flubs the first five minutes of the show -- the time in which other Emmy hosts like Ellen DeGeneres have made their mark -- it doesn't seem to matter.
Seascrest is the man with the Midas touch -- at least until Hollywood's next big "boy-next-door" contender gives him a run for the money.
The Seacrest Scoop
- Made People magazine's 2003 list of the 50 Most Beautiful People
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April of 2005
- Dated actress Shana Wall between 2003 and 2005
- Seacrest was photographed kissing "Desperate Housewives" actress Teri Hatcher in March of 2006. They went out on a couple of dates but "that was it," Seacrest later said on a May 2006 episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"
Is Seacrest deserving of all this attention and accolades? Or he is just another pretty face who'll fizzle fast enough?