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With his future the topic of much speculation in recent weeks, Ryan Seacrest took the stage at the Television Critics Association press tour Sunday to address his own fate.
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“I love this television show… and I can’t imagine life without American Idol,” said Seacrest, whose annual $15 million contract is set to expire after the Fox music competition series’ eleventh season wraps this spring. The mutli-hyphenate was tighter lipped when it came to reports that he’s eyeing an expanded role at NBCUniversal, with a possible position on the Today show. When asked about a potential future with NBC’s rival series, The Voice, Seacrest slithered about in his seat, noting that his focus this year is on Idol.
“I have a deal with NBCUniversal that we’re in negotiations discussing what I’ll do, but I already work there,” he said, declining to comment on any specifics regarding the morning show. Sources suggest the Seacrest is also weighing such options as Barbara Walters-style specials and a prominent role in the company’s Olympics coverage. In addition, he will continue to produce scripted and unscripted shows for his production company, which is responsible for the Kardashian franchise and Bravo’s upcoming Shahs of Sunset.
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The statements came mere hours after Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly insisted that his network would work hard to keep Seacrest on the No. 1 show, a message reiterated by alternative entertainment president Mike Darnell. “As we know, it is a much harder job than meets the eye,” said Reilly, a point made clearer by the mixed reviews X Factor host Steve Jones has received in recent months.
“I think everyone has come to realize the value of Ryan Seacrest. It’s very hard to imagine [American Idol] without Ryan. We certainly want to keep him,” he added. Though discussions surrounding Seacrest’s future at American Idol have not yet begun, Reilly suggested that it would be a “tough negotiation” but one that would “come to a conclusion pretty quickly.”
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt used his platform before the TV press two days earlier to offer similarly optimistic words about Seacrest, whose contract with NBCUniversal’s E! will expire even sooner. Though Greenblatt said keeping Matt Lauer, whose contract at Today is up later this year, is NBC’s “no. 1 priority,” he noted that “the goal at the moment is we’d love to keep Ryan Seacrest in the family, primarily because of the E!…. he’s become this incredible star.”
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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