TCA: Fox Expects to Keep Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol'

Ryan Seacrest H - 2010

"It's very hard to imagine the show without Ryan," says Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly. "We certainly want to keep him."

With speculation swirling about Ryan Seacrest's future on American Idol, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly declared that the network will work hard to keep him as host of its No. 1 show.

"As we know it is a much harder job than meets the eye," said Reilly at the network's TCA session on Sunday. "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."

Seacrest’s annual $15 million contract is up after the upcoming 11th season of Idol and multiple sources hace suggested that Fox will attempt to get Seacrest to take a pay cut. But Seacrest is unlikely to capitulate, especially given the money thrown at Jennifer Lopez, who sources say is making $20 million each season.

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Insiders say that Seacrest's representatives have become frustrated with the lack of Idol negotiations. "Fox has been doing nothing, they’e been sitting there. Until [Thursday] they hadn’t called Ryan," says one source.

Seacrest, 37, also has a deal with Comcast's NBCUniversal that is up for renewal. He appears on E! Entertainment in a broadly defined role that includes a daily news show and red-carpet duties. He also produces a slew of shows through his Ryan Seacrest Productions shingle, including E!'s top-rated Kardashian franchise and cable sibling Bravo's upcoming Shahs of Sunset.

Keeping Seacrest in the NBCUniversal family also is a high priority. Seacrest met with NBC News brass in December about opportunities on NBC's Today; he is set to make occasional appearances in the 9 a.m. hour of the top-rated morning show. (Today host Matt Lauer's contract expires this year and some reports speculated that Seacrest was being groomed as a successor to Lauer, a notion sources at NBC News strenuously denied).

But news of the meeting may have spurred some movement on Seacrest's Idol contract, say sources.

And Reilly noted that the Seacrest deal will be "a tough negotiation,"  but one he expects to "come to a conclusion pretty quickly."


Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie