Fox: It's hard to imagine 'American Idol' without Ryan Seacrest
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/09/2012
Fox has confirmed it wants to have host Ryan Seacrest continue with American Idol after his current $15 million-a-year contract expires at the end of the reality singing competition's upcoming eleventh season.
"I think everyone has come to realize the value of Ryan Seacrest. It's very hard to imagine [American Idol] without Ryan. We certainly want to keep him," Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters during a Television Critics Association press tour panel in Los Angeles on Sunday, The Hollywood Reporterreported.
"As we know, it is a much harder job than meets the eye," he added, taking a bit of an apparent shot at The X Factor host Steve Jones, who has received criticism for his hosting style.
During a later panel, Seacrest told reporters the feeling is mutual and it'd be tough for him to ever leave the show and Fox -- which is reportedly going to attempt to make the 37-year-old host take a pay cut as part of a new Idol contract.
"I love this television show... and I can't imagine life without American Idol," Seacrest told reporters.
However, Seacrest -- who also in talks to expand his separate hosting and reality TV production contract with NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC and numerous cable networks including E! and Bravo -- dodged specifics and declined to comment when asked about reports that his NBCUniversal relationship may expand to include a potential hosting position on the Today show or even Idol's competitor The Voice.
"I have a deal with NBCUniversal that we're in negotiations discussing what I'll do, but I already work there," the host said.
According to The Reporter sources, NBCUniversal is also considering having Seacrest helm a series of Barbara Walters-style specials for NBC and contribute to the network's coverage of the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He will also continue to host for E! News and produce the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality franchise for E! and Bravo's upcoming Shahs of Sunset reality series via his own Ryan Seacrest Productions production company.
While contract discussions regarding Seacrest's future involvement with American Idol have yet to begin, Reilly reportedly insisted it will be a "tough negotiation" but one that would "come to a conclusion pretty quickly."
The fact that negotiations haven't started yet has reportedly frustrated Seacrest's representatives.
"Fox has been doing nothing, they've been sitting there. Until [last Thursday] they hadn't called Ryan," a source toldThe Reporter.