Ripa and Seacrest announced the surprise choice at the start of Monday’s edition of the show, which Ripa has hosted since early 2001. Seacrest’s move into the seat next to Ripa comes nearly a year after Ripa’s former co-host, Michael Strahan, left the Disney-distributed show for an anchor slot on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“Ryan is a quintessential broadcaster and at the top of his game,” said Ripa in a statement. “I am thrilled to start my mornings with him every day, and we are so fortunate at ‘Live’ to have him join the family. Ryan is a close friend and his star shines as brightly off camera as it does on. His tremendous success is only matched by his impeccable reputation. Plainly said, everyone loves him, and so will our daily viewers.”
The move gives Seacrest, the multi-hyphenate host and entrepreneur, another big media platform. He will relocate from Los Angeles to New York for the “Live” gig, but will continue to host his syndicated daily drive-time radio show for L.A.’s KIIS-FM and the weekly “American Top 40” radio program. The plan is to build a radio studio for Seacrest at WABC-TV New York, where “Live” originates.
“Not only is Kelly Ripa one of the most talented live hosts in broadcast TV; she’s also become a very dear friend to me over the years. It’s consistently been my privilege and pleasure to work alongside Kelly with all her incredible talents, charm and humor,” Seacrest said. “I’ve been so fortunate in my career to be a part of some incredible TV programs, and I’m excited to join daytime’s top entertainment talk show, and most important, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather share this new chapter with than Kelly Ripa – she’s a dream broadcast partner, and I can’t wait to start.”
Seacrest served as a co-host with Ripa a few times during the past year, when “Live” had a steady stream of guest hosts while she took her time in selecting a permanent partner. His most recent stint on the show came on Feb. 27 with “Live’s” annual post-Oscars edition. Seacrest will continue in his role as host and executive producer of E!’s “Live From the Red Carpet” franchise, as well as his annual hosting gig on ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
Seacrest’s move to “Live” comes a year after the curtain fell on the show that made him a household name, Fox’s “American Idol.” Over the years Seacrest has parlayed his success on air into a business empire that includes everything from investments in digital media startups (including DigiTour Media, Pinterest) and marketing/PR firms (Civic Entertainment Group) to a menswear line with Macy’s and an upcoming line of skincare products, Polished by Dr. Lancer.
Ryan Seacrest Productions (RSP) is also a busy producer of scripted and unscripted TV series, notably E’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and its many spinoffs, Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset” and the NBC drama series “Shades of Blue,” toplined by Jennifer Lopez. RSP will remain based in Los Angeles. The “Live” gig puts Seacrest squarely in business with each of the Big Four network parent companies. In addition to his deal with NBCUniversal’s E!, RSP has an unscripted TV production pact with Fox’s Endemol Shine North America and a scripted TV development deal with CBS Television Studios.
Michael Gelman, the longtime exec producer of “Live,” called Seacrest “a master of live TV” with the experience and chops to handle chores of daily morning TV.
“When you combine those attributes with the talents and experience of the incomparable Kelly Ripa, you have two skilled and entertaining broadcasters, with great chemistry. Add in an experienced production team and a successful 30-year franchise and you have the perfect combination,” Gelman said.
Getting Seacrest in place is a bookend to the drama that ensued after Strahan made his move to “GMA,” which angered Ripa as she was left out of the loop on the planning. The show that bowed in the late 1980s with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford at the helm has maintained its strong ratings during the past year thanks to Ripa. Seacrest’s high-profile in TV and visibility in other media can only be an asset to “Live.”
“One of the secrets to ‘Live’s’ decades of success in daytime is the relatability of our hosts and their ability to deeply connect with the audience,” said Janice Marinelli, president of Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution. “Ryan has a charm and charisma that resonate with his devoted TV and radio audiences, and together, he and the remarkable Kelly Ripa will take ‘Live’ to a whole new level.”