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Fox on Monday tapped “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest to emcee the network’s broadcast of the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 16.
The announcement follows weeks of speculation that Fox would forgo a host for a slew of presenters, as it did when it last broadcast the Emmys four years ago.
“Ryan Seacrest is a consummate host of major live broadcast events and a proven talent who always makes it easy, which makes him the perfect choice for this year’s Emmy telecast,” said Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment at Fox.
Seacrest has emerged as Fox’s host in residence for high-profile specials. He recently was appointed entertainment host for the network’s coverage of Super Bowl XLII in February.
While Seacrest is a logical choice for Fox, he is a somewhat unorthodox pick for the Emmy ceremony, which usually is fronted by a comedian.
“This year’s show will be different in a number of ways,” Emmys executive producer Ken Ehrlich said. “The freshness, enthusiasm and professionalism that Ryan brings to everything he does will be a perfect match for some of the innovative things we have planned.”
Ehrlich declined to elaborate on specifics about the tweaks to this year’s telecast but said that they will reflect Fox’s younger-skewing demographics compared with the Big Three networks, which also carry the Emmys, and that the bookings would be younger that usual this year. The show also is expected to include a bit featuring Fox’s hit animated series “Family Guy.”
“Ryan Seacrest appeals to a broad audience, including the highly desirable young adult demographic,” said Dick Askin, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy. “He is charismatic and talented, and he will be very comfortable in the production environment that has been created for this year’s telecast.”
Ehrlich said there will be a musical component to the ceremony and possibly some “Idol” tie-in since the hit show is nominated in the reality competition category, he said.
In an interesting twist, this year’s Emmy Awards originally were to be executive produced by “Idol” masterminds Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who bowed out shortly after being named to the gig in the spring.
Ehrlich confirmed that he and his team had considered going without a host if they couldn’t find the right one.
“We’re clear that we found the right guy,” he said of Seacrest. “What we love about him is he’s your tour guide, your cheerleader through the show; he is the ultimate fan and will bring all of that to the show.”
Going with Seacrest instead of a comedian also means a different opening for the award show than the traditional 20-minute comedy act, something the producers are working on, Ehrlich said.
Seacrest, who is accustomed to doing his morning show on KIIS-FM Los Angeles, his duties as lead anchor on E! News and emceeing “Idol” on the same day, will be pulling double duty on Emmy day, too. He will host E!’s red-carpet coverage of the event before going inside the Shrine Auditorium to take the stage for Fox.
“There is a boundless sense of energy about him, and he’s not going to have any problem handling both,” Ehrlich said.
Seacrest’s appointment comes a mere four weeks before the Sept. 16 ceremony. While this is a short lead time by any measure — Emmy hosts are usually announced around Emmy nomination day a month earlier — Ehrlich said it’s not unprecedented. He pointed to his deal with Jon Stewart several year ago when the “Daily Show” frontman was tapped to host the Grammys two weeks before the show.
Seacrest is repped by WMA.
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