Ryan Seacrest Nears New 'American Idol' Deal, In Talks for Bigger Clear Channel Role
Though discussions continue, Seacrest has signaled that he likely will part ways with long-time partner NBCU and end his red carpet presence.
Ryan Seacrest is zeroing in on his next chapter.
Hollywood's hardest working multihyphenate is said to be considering some significant changes to a portfolio that reportedly earns him $61 million annually. While gigs including American Idol and his morning radio show are likely to continue, sources familiar with his ongoing discussions suggest others, such as E! red carpet duty, will come to an end. As part of that strategic reshuffling, he's expected to expand his role with Clear Channel and continue to amp up his presence in the start-up community.
The most lucrative part of Seacrest's portfolio is likely to become that much more so. The host is in talks with longtime radio partner Clear Channel about taking on an increased role at the company. (His current $25 million deal runs through 2015, and new responsibilities would mean an extension and more money.) The plan would be for Seacrest to help build out more multiplatform programming with Clear Channel and the iHeart brand that he would host and produce via his Ryan Seacrest Productions. He began dabbling with the latter late last year, when he hosted a One Direction iHeart Radio "album release party" special on the CW.
Despite reports to the contrary, Seacrest is close to making a new deal to remain with Fox's Idol for two more years as well. (Even with its steep declines in ratings, multiple sources say Idol will continue.) Though the time commitment and intense travel schedule can prove problematic for someone trying to juggle as many jobs as he is, Seacrest has been loyal to the singing competition that catapulted his career more than a decade ago and that has provided him a significant weekly platform in the years since. He's often said he "couldn’t imagine life without Idol," and producers and executives alike have referred to him publicly as the "glue" that holds the show together. Seacrest is expected to appear at Fox's upfront presentation to advertisers in mid-May to show his continued support for the show.
His future with NBCUniversal, however, is far less certain. His long-term deal with the conglomerate expired at the end of March, according to one well-placed source; and while talks continue about some producing and hosting relationship with the company, another deal of its kind is highly unlikely. He has signaled to executives there that he'd like to move on, as NBCU hasn't been able to offer the kind of sizable platform he's after. As part of those conversations, he's made clear to execs at E!, specifically, that he'd like to walk away from his red carpet responsibilities, just as he did with his on-air presence on E! News two years ago.
Given both his experience and his reach (a four-hour weekday radio presence, Idol and a Twitter following of 12.6 million), Seacrest is said to be fielding interest from other networks, with multiple sources noting that his reps have had exploratory discussions with rival ABC, for which he hosts Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest and produces scripted comedy Mixology. One suggests any split with NBCU would be amicable, and his production company could continue selling specials (think: E!'s Best Moments: On Air with Ryan Seacrest, airing April 23) to the network group.
RSP, which was launched in 2006, has a collection of series within the NBCU portfolio already, including E!'s Kardashian franchise along with Bravo's Shahs of Sunset and E!'s Married to Jonas, and will continue to produce there and elsewhere. All of this comes as RSP looks to bulk up its output, and achieve a long-held -- and until now elusive -- goal of producing a broadcast juggernaut a la Idol. (The company's latest attempt, I Wanna Marry Harry, will roll out in late May on Fox.) To help the company get closer, Seacrest tapped veteran reality exec Eugene Young to replace his agent-turned-chief Adam Sher earlier this year. Young serves as president.
Another area of focus that is likely to expand going forward: Seacrest's entrepreneurial efforts. In recent years, he's become increasingly active investing in media and entertainment companies through his Seacrest Global Group. Recent investments include marketing company Civic Entertainment Group as well as tech startups Pinterest, FlightCar and smartphone accessory company TYPO. He's also an investor in lifestyle and entertainment channel AXS TV with Mark Cuban, AEG and his agency, CAA, and in the fall of 2015, he'll launch a new tailored clothing collection, Ryan Seacrest Distinction, at Macy's.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose