Fox says ‘Idol’ experience works in his favor
Ryan Seacrest is in as host of the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
The Seacrest announcement caps weeks of speculation over who might get the hosting gig — or if Fox would opt to go without an emcee. Hosts are usually announced earlier in the production schedule for big kudofests like the Emmys, which will be broadcast in less than a month.
But with no obvious comedian choices, Fox had difficulty choosing a host at first. (Insiders say Seacrest was always a contender, but initially the net was concerned with overexposure, given Seacrest’s high-profile hosting for “American Idol.) Unlike the other webs, Fox doesn’t have a weeknight talkshow star — e.g. last year’s Emmy host, Conan O’Brien on NBC — who are frequently considered the go-to kudo presenters.
Ultimately though, Seacrest’s experience in clocking countless hours hosting TV’s No. 1 program made him the most logical candidate at Fox.
“This is an event that I’ve covered from all angles, but I have never been in the center of it all,” said Seacrest, who had previously hosted the Billboard Music Awards. “It’s probably a bit of a challenge — comedians generally host this show and I’m not one.”
Seacrest said he met with Emmycast exec producer Ken Ehrlich last week to discuss the show — including how to open it sans the traditional monologue.
“I don’t feel like I need to do a song and dance and 15 minutes of jokes,” he said. “The way I’m looking at the whole show, it’s about elevating everyone on their night, as opposed to making it my night … I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I plan to honor the class and the heritage of the Emmy.”
Ehrlich said this year’s Emmycast will contain several musical performances, which he believes will play into Seacrest’s strengths.
“It’s really interesting how perfectly our track has dovetailed with who Ryan is,” Erhlich said. “There’s a real likeability factor with Ryan, as well as an ability to deal with a live, hopefully unpredictable series of events. I will feel very confident knowing that he’s up there in a live situation.”
Ehrlich said he also hoped Seacrest would attract more younger viewers to the Emmycast.
The host has become Fox’s go-to guy for its major events; Seacrest was recently named the pregame and halftime entertainment host for the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Emmy Sunday will be a hectic one for the always-busy Seacrest. As the anchor of “E! News Daily,” Seacrest will also take part in the cabler’s pre-Emmy coverage — although the channel is still ironing out how much it will be able to use him before Seacrest has to duck out to prep for the hosting gig.
“It adds a different layer and a little more complexity,” Ehrlich said of Seacrest’s E! commitments. “But it’s very evident from the couple of times that Ryan and I talked that he’s got an incredible amount of energy.”
Coincidentally, Seacrest’s “Idol” exec producers, Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe, were originally slated to tackle this year’s Emmycast but had to bow out because of production commitments elsewhere. That’s when Ehrlich took over.
Fox alternative entertainment prexy Mike Darnell called Seacrest’s work on “Idol” “unparalleled in the industry.”
“He’s a consummate host of major live broadcast events and a proven talent who always makes it look easy, which makes him the perfect choice for this year’s Emmy telecast,” he said.
TV Academy CEO Dick Askin said Seacrest appealed “to a broad audience, including the highly desirable young adult demographic, so he should serve as a magnet for attracting a diverse array of viewers.”
Besides “Idol” and “E! News Daily,” Seacrest’s domain includes handling morning drive on Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM.
This year’s Emmy kudofest takes place Sept. 16 at the Shrine Auditorium.