It's Official: Ryan Seacrest to Host NBC's 'Million Second Quiz'
With the new deal, Seacrest, who also emcees Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" special, will be the face of a major unscripted franchise at three of the four big broadcast networks.
Hollywood's busiest man is about to get even busier.
Ryan Seacrest has inked a deal to host another broadcast reality show, this time for NBC. The show, The Million Second Quiz, is billed as a 24-hour live competition series, for which Seacrest also will serve as an executive producer. In signing on, Seacrest, who also emcees Fox's American Idol and ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve special, will become the face of a major unscripted franchise at three of the four big broadcast networks.
Taking place over 12 days and nights, Quiz will see contestants battling one another as they test the limits of their knowledge, endurance and will to win. Catering to Seacrest's strengths as a live presenter, NBC will broadcast the interactive show in primetime live from an hourglass-shaped structure in Manhattan -- which will also serve as living quarters for the players -- instead of the typical studio setting.
Unlike other competition shows, players have to play The Million Second Quiz 24 hours a day for 1 million seconds -- which translates to 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds -- in order to avoid elimination. As that time ticks away, champions will duke it out, and an eventual winner will take home as much as $10 million. NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt praised the game show effort during his Television Critics Association press tour panel July 27 as an important piece of the network’s live events push. Quiz will join NBC's fall schedule, with its premiere set for Sept. 9.
“When people see Ryan Seacrest, whether at the Emmys, the Oscars or on New Year’s Eve, he is at the epicenter of national events,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming, in a statement confirming the news Monday. “He is a broadcaster, in all the traditional senses, but also in the most contemporary -- he is an accomplished host of live TV and a master of social media and pop culture. This makes him perfect for The Million Second Quiz.”
Added Seacrest: “I’m so excited to be hosting this new live game show on NBC, as it’s really a fun and different format that I believe will generate lots of fans across different platforms."
According to sources close to the situation, the complicating factor had been Seacrest's many jobs, to say nothing of his packed schedule. In addition to his daily Clear Channel radio show, which he tapes in Los Angeles, he typically travels for Idol auditions in the fall. (The latter is somewhat in flux, given that Idol has yet to hire a new judges' panel.) That Quiz's production schedule is only 12 days long has eased some of the various parties' concerns, and Seacrest has proved particularly adept at navigating his many relationships in the past.
The gig will deepen the relationship Seacrest has with Comcast-owned NBC, which has been looking for a primetime platform for him for some time. He inked an expansive two-year deal with the network in the spring of 2012, which entailed such additional duties as a special correspondent for Today as well as a contributor to NBC's primetime news, entertainment programming and Olympics coverage. In doing so, he scaled back his on-air role with E! News, where he still serves as managing editor and continues to appear on camera for major award shows.
Seacrest will be one of few familiar faces when Idol returns next spring, with judges Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey announcing that they will not be returning to the singing competition. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly recently confirmed that Keith Urban would be returning to the show. (As THR reported Aug. 3, Jennifer Lopez and Will.i.am have shot to the top of producers' wish lists, with Lopez inching closer to a deal.) Seacrest, who has one year left on his current Idol contract, has long been described by producers as "the glue" that holds the live show together. He has billed himself the show’s “traffic cop,” and that skill for making sure everything runs smoothly and appears effortless to the viewer at home is one that will likely come in handy on Quiz.
Additionally, Seacrest serves a producer on a growing collection of series, including E!'s Kardashian franchise, Bravo's Shahs of Sunset and E!'s The Wanted Life. Come midseason, he will add his first scripted series for broadcast with ABC's high-concept comedy Mixology.
In the case of Quiz, All3Media America, Studio Lambert and Universal TV will produce, with Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and David A. Hurwitz joining Seacrest as executive producers.
Seacrest is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.
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