American Idol fame into a raft of projects that have made him one of pop culture's most pervasive personalities. And there's no sign that he's slowing down.
TV host Ryan Seacrest has parlayed his
TV host Ryan Seacrest has parlayed his American Idol fame into a raft of projects that have made him one of pop culture's most pervasive personalities. And there's no sign that he's slowing down. Michael Becker/Fox
So far, Ryan Seacrest hasn't taken over the entire world. Only its shiniest, most glittery broadcasts.
The show still known as Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve is now mainly hosted and produced by Seacrest, whose sweetly vanilla good looks mask a monster of a work ethic.
Every weekday he wakes at 4 a.m. to host a morning radio show in Los Angeles. Then he hosts a TV program for the E! channel. Then he edits and hosts a national radio show.
In his role as American Idol host, or so goes the joke, Seacrest is the guy who taught a nation of grandmothers how to text message.
On weekends, he relaxes by hosting the long-running American Top 40, heard on more than 500 stations. And from time to time he turns up as host of red-carpet coverage at the Grammys, the Emmys, the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
And let's not forget the Super Bowl.
Media analyst Larry Rosin finds Seacrest's career nothing short of amazing.
"In the course of a very short period of time, he's essentially replaced Dick Clark," Rosin says. "He's replaced Casey Kasem; he's replaced Rick Dees."
There are even rumors, says Rosin, that Seacrest will eventually take over Larry King's show.
"You'd think a different new guy or gal would come into these positions," Rosin marvels. "But in every case it's Ryan Seacrest."
That Seacrest has consolidated so many media roles might reflect our consolidated era, in which media companies have gobbled each other up and where glossy entertainment seems to trump hard news.
But Seacrest's rise to power has come partly because he insists on keeping his hand on the tiller as a producer — both on the shows he hosts and the ones he creates and develops.
He built Keeping Up With the Kardashians into the E! channel's No. 1 hit. He's got another one in the works for ABC that stars chef Jamie Oliver. Seacrest is known for working so unbelievably hard, on such a micromanaged schedule, that "obsessive" almost sounds like an understatement.
Seacrest's Idol contract is worth $45 million over three years; Comcast and E! pay him an additional $21 million for the same commitment. And he has an uncanny knack for managing his own brand, says entertainment marketing executive Tom Weeks.
"He gets that people think he's a squeaky-clean guy," Weeks says. "You want to be approachable, but not so perfect that people start ignoring you because it's not real anymore."
Still, it was the glossy perfection of Seacrest's persona that moved author Dave Housley to write a short story about him. It's part of a well-reviewed collection titled Ryan Seacrest is Famous.
Housley isn't a Seacrest fan, exactly. But he is fascinated by the phenomenon of someone who leveraged so much from being a presenter on what's essentially a prime-time talent show.
"He's a host," Housley marvels. "He's not the Simon Cowell character, who kind of comes off and says creatively nasty things. He's the guy who stands there and says, 'Here's Kelly Clarkson.' "
And Housley finds something almost a little ominous about Seacrest's ongoing march across the multimedia frontier. Seacrest almost seems less like a human, Housley says, than like "some kind of media-conglomerate robot that's gonna keep assembling jobs until he's controlling everything — he's going to be the president of the United States!"
President Seacrest? You heard it here first.