Ryan Seacrest reportedly close to finalizing 'American Idol' deal -- "Who am I if not the 'American Idol' guy?"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/15/2017
Ryan Seacrest is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to host American Idol's revival after roller-coaster negotiations with ABC and Fremantle North America.
"I've always loved the show," Seacrest, 42, told The Hollywood Reporter. "And if I could do it forever, I would do it forever."
Seacrest recalled nearly settling on a deal to return to the reality singing competition in May, just days after he had inked contracts to serve as Kelly Ripa's new co-host on ABC's Live with Kelly and Ryan.
"Who am I if not the American Idol guy?" Seacrest, 42, recalled asking himself numerous times over the last year, since American Idol ended with Season 15 in April 2016. "I had so many walls up in my own head about my life in Los Angeles and my role in Los Angeles."
Once ABC officially revealed it had picked up Idol for a sixteenth-season revival in May 2017, Seacrest apparently received a rich offer from ABC and producer Fremantle to return as the franchise's beloved host.
According to The Reporter, Seacrest was negotiating between $10-15 million and demanding a role in the show's creative direction.
The TV and radio personality first sat down with Fremantle's Trish Kinane and then with Disney/ABC's Ben Sherwood to brainstorm ideas of how to modernize American Idol now that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are huge platforms in pop culture.
Seacrest also allegedly discussed the show with Katy Perry, nudging the singer to accept her $25 million offer to serve as a judge on the new season.
ABC initially planned to confirm Seacrest's highly-anticipated return to Idol at the network's upfronts presentation in mid-May; however, Perry was the big announcement instead -- after they failed to agree upon a deal accepted by Seacrest.
Multiple insiders told The Reporter that Fremantle, now with significantly less flexibility in its Idol budget due to Perry's paycheck, then came back to Seacrest with a lowball offer, a number "roughly half the size of its first," explaining to Seacrest that the show's new format would require less of his time and energy.
Seacrest was allegedly offended by the turn of events but gave ABC and Fremantle a week to sort things out. When Seacrest was not approached with a better arrangement, his representative reportedly told ABC to take him out of the running as host on June 5.
ABC's top executives were allegedly shocked by Fremantle's lowball offer at the time, so according to insiders close to the negotiations, Sherwood contacted Seacrest within hours and begged for a chance to render the situation.
The following day, June 6, Sherwood followed through with his promise, according to The Reporter, and Seacrest was offered a revised contract of just over $10 million, with the addition of an executive-producer title.
When thinking about adding American Idol to his lineup of other gigs -- including Live with Kelly and running his production company as well as his On-Air with Ryan Seacrestradio show -- Seacrest admitted to The Reporter he "never thought that would be possible," with a big smile on his face.
Sources said "the idea of being replaced" onAmerican Idol "would destroy" Seacrest at the end of the day. The show's longtime host is therefore considering a comeback, especially in light of his recent, more suitable financial proposition.
"We want Ryan to be a master of all things live for us in the way that Regis Philbin was for many years here," Sherwood told The Reporter.
American Idol's auditions are reportedly set to begin in mid-August and stop in 19 cities. Seacrest admitted that there was always a part of him that believedAmerican Idol would return to television after telling viewers "goodbye -- for now" at the end of the series' Season 15 finale last year.
"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," Seacrest explained, although he said no "real conversations" were had at that point.
Perry is the only confirmed talent on ABC's upcoming edition of American Idol so far, but fans are still hoping Seacrest will join the mix.
"I've figured out what I'm better at and what I'm not so good at, and I'm doing the things that I'm better at," Seacrest told The Reporter about one month after taking on his hosting duties for Live with Kelly. "The things that I'm not so good at would make me tired and would make me want to slow down."