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‘American Idol’: Ryan Seacrest in Advanced Talks to Return as Host for ABC Revival (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/11/2017 Shirley Halperin
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Meet the new host, same as the old host?  Variety hears through sources that Ryan Seacrest is in advanced talks to come back as host of “American Idol” when the show is rebooted on ABC next spring.

According to an insider, final tweaks are being hammered out on a new contract for the multihyphenate, who recently joined Kelly Ripa as cohost of ABC’s long-running morning show, the newly named “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Stakeholders in “Idol,” which include FremantleMedia and CORE Media Group, are hoping to nail down a look that’s “authentic and most like the original.”

But another source close to Seacrest downplays the progress, noting that “conversations with producers about his potential involvement are in the early stages” and “there is a lot to work through given his other priorities and commitments.” Namely: to “Live” and his daily iHeartRadio syndicated program “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” but also hosting and producing duties for E! and ABC’s “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” That said, adds the insider: “Ryan has a lot of affection for ‘American Idol’ given the show’s significance to his career, and it taps into the things he loves — a live show, pop music, and discovering new talent.”

Variety reached out to “Idol” creator Simon Fuller, who is not currently involved in the new iteration on ABC, for his take. “There would be no ‘American Idol’ without Ryan Seacrest,” says Fuller, while declining to comment further.

Representatives for ABC and Seacrest declined to comment.

Variety has also learned that ABC has committed to broadcasting about 40 hours of “Idol” for next season — making it likely that the show will air over two nights most weeks, as it did during its 15-season run on Fox. Producers FremantleMedia and Core Media Group had insisted while shopping the show that any broadcast partner commit to an order of at least 25 hours.

A twice-a-week schedule for “Idol” would further complicate what has been the major stumbling block to securing Seacrest’s return to the series that he hosted for 15 years — his new gig as co-host of ABC’s syndicated morning show “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” On Monday’s episode, Seacrest addressed speculation about his return to Idol when questioned by co-host Kelly Ripa, saying, “I don’t know about that part yet. “We haven’t gotten that far. This was news to me, actually, last week. I had said at the end of the series, ‘Goodbye for now,’ hoping somewhere it would come back.”

ABC on Tuesday announced that it had picked up a revival of “American Idol” for the 2017-18 season. The series order ended a process that saw multiple networks explore bringing the reality franchise to their air, as well as a briefer-than-anticipated absence for a show that just a year ago celebrated its “farewell season.” Seacrest has been speculated as a possibility to return to show since earlier this year, when Variety first reported that NBC was considering a revival of “Idol.” The Peacock eventually passed on the show, with ABC and Fox later emerging as the lead contenders to bring it back to television.

The new-model “Idol” comes from FremantleMedia North America and Core Media Group’s 19 Entertainment. Executive producers include FremantleMedia North America’s Trish Kinane and Jennifer Mullin.

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