'Today' Show Producer Hints at Ryan Seacrest's Future at the Company
On the eve of Katie Couric’s weeklong guest turn on ABC's Good Morning America, Today show executive producer Jim Bell attempted to bring the attention back to his morning show.
“Tuesday morning live on the TODAY show in Studio 1A, Ryan Seacrest will make a big NBC announcement,” he tweeted to his 3,000 followers, adding: “Would @RyanSeacrest have more fun doing the weather for Al [Roker] or having a cocktail in the 10am with Kathie Lee? What is your drink Ryan?”
The comments about a likely contract-renewal announcement come after months of negotiations between multihyphenate Seacrest and E! parent NBCUniversal. Despite a winter report in The Wall Street Journal about Seacrest meeting with Bell about replacing co-host Matt Lauer at Today, such a reality is said to be incredibly unlikely as Lauer is likely to re-up (for significantly more money) when his contract expires this year.
Multiple sources have noted that Seacrest's new deal with the expanded company likely will include such things as occasional Today appearances and involvement in the company’s Olympics coverage. (Seacrest's rep declined comment, and a Today rep did not return a request for comment.)
In question is what his ongoing involvement will be in E! News, a nightly entertainment news show that Seacrest co-hosts with Giuliana Rancic. Sources point out that his role with the show has waned as he's had to juggle other projects including American Idol, while new NBC cable entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer has aggressively courted new talent to strengthen the E! News bench.
In a meeting with the press in January, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt suggested he would like to see Seacrest host Barbara Walters-esque specials as well as continue to produce shows through his Ryan Seacrest Productions, the shingle behind E!’s Kardashians franchise and Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset.
Whatever the specifics of his new role, they will come in addition to the many Seacrest already has. Among the latter: long-running hosting gigs for both the radio and Fox’s Idol. (His Idol contract is set to expire after the current season, with his future there in limbo as well.)
Seacrest, along with partners AEG and agency CAA, recently announced that he would team with billionaire Mark Cuban to rebrand HDNet as a live-entertainment-focused cable network called AXS (pronounced Access). Seacrest’s RSP will have a production commitment with the new venture, though it won’t preclude his first-look deal with NBCUniversal.