Rinna in, Rivers out for TV Guide red carpet


TV Guide Channel is replacing red-carpet mavens Joan and Melissa Rivers with Lisa Rinna.

The network said Wednesday that Rinna has signed an exclusive, multiyear contract to host five red-carpet preshows a year and also headline five fashion recap shows connected to those events. She will make her TV Guide Channel debut Sept. 16 with the Emmys.

While the Riverses' contract with TV Guide is expiring, it's believed that the channel had an option to extend that deal for another year but chose not to. The duo launched TV Guide Channel's red-carpet programming in January 2005 after the network wooed them away from E! Entertainment Television to boost its ratings, signing a three-year deal reportedly worth $6 million-$8 million. Their debut on TV Guide broke network records, and TV Guide's ratings for red-carpet live preshows are up 36% year-to-date. However, the network still trails behind E! -- whose coverage is led by Ryan Seacrest -- which more than doubles TV Guide's red-carpet viewership.

It's understood that the Riverses are in the process of considering other offers. TV Guide Channel president Ryan O'Hara praised the duo, including their "contributions to the success of our red-carpet coverage." As for the decision to replace them, he said only that "we basically had been evaluating our options over the next several months. In March, we met face-to-face with Lisa after (her reps at) UTA suggested that we meet. And the minute we met, we thought it was perfect match. ... You can sense her energy and passion."

O'Hara pointed to her experience as a host of such series as Oxygen's "Tease" and SoapNet's "Soap Talk" as well as her previous red-carpet experience, including serving as a correspondent for "Access Hollywood" last year at the Golden Globes, Oscars and Emmys. He added that her knowledge of fashion -- Rinna owns the Belle Gray women's clothing boutiques in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Calabasas, Calif. -- will be a plus when interviewing celebrities on the red carpet.

For her part, Rinna said she jumped at the chance to serve as a red-carpet host.

"I've loved awards shows my whole life. ... I got a taste of this last year (through her 'Access Hollywood' work) ... and I remember calling my agent and saying, 'You know what? I found my dream job,' " she said, adding that she picked up an "innate sense" of being able to easily recall information about celebrities' personal and professional lives from her mother that also will come in handy.

Rinna recently competed on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and is set to make her Broadway debut in the musical "Chicago," playing Roxie Hart opposite her husband, Harry Hamlin, from June 19-July 29.