Seacrest to host ‘Idol’ spinoff ‘Juniors’

Kids compete for spot in five-member music group

“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest isn’t straying far from Fox this summer: He’s been tapped to host the spinoff talent contest “American Juniors.”

Seacrest will essentially handle the same duties he performs on “Idol,” interacting with the young talent and judges participating on “Juniors.”

“American Juniors” will follow two groups of performers — ages 6-9 and 10-13 — as they compete for slots in a five-member music group. Show premieres with a one-hour audition episode on Tuesday, June 3, at 8 p.m.

Another audition seg follows the next week, June 10; regular performance episodes, in which viewers can vote on which kids move forward, start June 17. As with “Idol,” half-hour episodes in which winners are revealed will air Wednesdays at 8:30, beginning June 18.

Seacrest currently hosts a radio show on Los Angeles’ KYSR-FM (“Star 98.7”) and is developing a syndie talker strip for Twentieth Television, which he’ll host and exec produce. That project is targeted for a January launch, coinciding with the preem of the third “American Idol” competition.

“Ryan Seacrest has proven time and again that he is one of the premiere hosts in variety television,” said Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman. “As an important member of the Fox family, and the face of ‘American Idol,’ he is obviously the best choice for the job.”

Network had been in talks with “Idol” judge Paula Abdul about hosting “Juniors,” but ultimately she did not join the show. “American Juniors” comes from 19 Television and FremantleMedia North America; Simon Fuller and Cecile Frot-Coutaz are exec producers. Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick co-exec produce.

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