June 24, 2014 8:00am PT by Lacey Rose
Ryan Seacrest's New Deals: More Red Carpets, a Fourth Network Gig (Exclusive)
A version of this story first appeared in the July 4-18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Ryan Seacrest is staying put on the red carpet.
The multihyphenate has inked a one-year deal with NBCUniversal that includes manning the major awards show carpets in 2015, along with other duties. Additionally, he has signed a separate pact to host and executive produce CBS' live special Fashion Rocks. The latter marks Seacrest's first on-air deal with CBS, and it means that he now has partnerships at each of the Big Four broadcast networks. (He hosts New Year's Rockin' Eve at ABC and recently signed on to continue with American Idol on Fox.)
The NBCU deal is in some ways an extension of his prior one, though this iteration is focused primarily on carpets, contributions to E! News, and a few specials at E! and NBC via his Ryan Seacrest Productions shingle (Keeping Up With the Kardashians). No longer officially included is a commitment to NBC News' Today show or involvement with NBC Sports. Still, Seacrest suggests he'd like to try to continue working with both divisions and has already had conversations with NBC Sports about collaborating on the Olympics coverage in Rio in 2016, as he did the London games in 2012. Today is less likely, given a morning radio schedule that has him in Los Angeles while the NBC show broadcasts out of New York.
News of the NBCU pact comes after reports that he was considering calling it quits on his red-carpet responsibilities, which one could argue someone of his stature has outgrown. "I felt like I had been there for a long time, and I wanted to think about whether or not it fit into the full scope of what my focus was going to be in the years to come," he tells The Hollywood Reporter of what proved a protracted decision-making process, noting that his long-standing relationships with NBCU executives Steve Burke and Bonnie Hammer played a significant role in him ultimately signing on for another 12 months: "They've been very good to me."
Seacrest's involvement with CBS' Fashion Rocks, which will air as a two-hour primetime special during New York Fashion Week in September, was born out of another set of relationships. In this case, CBS' music and specials chief Jack Sussman — with whom he had been discussing a collaboration for years — and Macy's department store. Richard Beckman and his Three Lions Entertainment along with Don Mischer will produce the special. To hear Seacrest tell it, the timing aligned perfectly not only with his schedule but also, and far more significantly, with Macy's fall rollout plan for his Ryan Seacrest Distinction collection of tailored suits and accessories. The forthcoming fashion line has become a big focus of late, and, as he sees it, an opportunity to be part of a larger lifestyle brand.
"I'm certainly not a designer, but I do enjoy the process of picking out a great suit and putting a tie with it, and then adding cufflinks and the tie clip," he says by phone from Denver, where he was on site at the children's hospital to open his seventh broadcast production studio via his Ryan Seacrest Foundation. "This is a chance to curate some cool, classic styles that start with suits and accessories but could eventually grow into other lifestyle opportunities." Seacrest is said to be planning a live radio broadcast from Herald Square just before Fashion Week to promote the Macy's line as well.
The flurry of new deals comes as Seacrest continues to expand his portfolio, pushing into areas such as investing as well as fashion. He points to a recent investment in YouTube event firm DigiTour as an example of the kinds of companies that interest him, noting that he was able to add not only capital but also value through his other core businesses. "We see a lot of different opportunities, and most of them we don't do," he acknowledges, adding: "I don't know which ones are going to truly pay off, but I do believe you've got to take some swings, and we're trying to swing at those that we think we can add significant value to." (Other Seacrest investments include marketing company Civic Entertainment Group as well as tech startups Pinterest, FlightCar and smartphone accessory company TYPO.)
To be able to provide that value, as well as to maintain his status as one of Hollywood's most connected (and highest-paid) faces, Seacrest will keep both his attention and his foothold in Hollywood, too. Proof: his recently signed two-year deal to stay at Idol, the show that catapulted him to fame more than a decade ago. Despite free-falling ratings, the perennially optimistic Seacrest says that the singing competition is "part of his DNA," adding that he likes the format, the chemistry of returning judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. and the fact that it's still a great platform for both young people and music. As for the Nielsen plummet, he suggests Idol has "incredible potential" to grow its audience next season.
Seacrest remains committed to his other long-running projects, too, including radio via his $25 million deal with Clear Channel. In fact, he's in talks about taking on an increased role at the company, which would entail him helping to build out more multiplatform programming — with Clear Channel and the iHeart brand — that he would host and produce via his production company. Of his lengthy morning radio block that has him in the studio daily, he says: "it's the engine that drives everything else."