Seacrest Ready for Anything

Aug 25, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Ryan Seacrest knows the perils of taking on a national audience with a live broadcast.
Toward the end of season two of “American Idol,” Mr. Seacrest and “Idol” contestants Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke found themselves trapped in an elevator with 90 seconds left before the Fox broadcast went live to the country.
“I told the producers to get a camera in here immediately, because this had the makings of a classic moment in television,” Mr. Seacrest said. “It would have been incredible.”
But seconds before going to air, the elevator doors opened and the quartet managed to hit the stage just in time for the airwaves. Although the story has a happy ending, Mr. Seacrest noted that that is exactly the kind of spontaneity and “ready for anything” mentality he hopes to inject into his upcoming daytime strip, which he will host and executive produce for Twentieth Television.
On Jan. 12 Mr. Seacrest’s show will debut live from his new studio, (which Twentieth is negotiating to take place at the Hollywood & Highland complex in Los Angeles, right in the heart of tourist country). The format will blend elements of a talk show, a newsmagazine, a variety show and MTV’s “Total Request Live” with a splash of “Today” thrown in for good measure.
“There are so many things that seem to look alike in daytime television these days and they all seem to be the same thing with different faces,” Mr. Seacrest said. “We’ve gone out of our way to let viewers know that from the first shot in, you know this is a different television show with a hell of a lot of energy.”
The series is cleared in 85 percent of the country for its debut, including all of the Fox owned-and-operated stations. A slew of national clearances in the late afternoon should, in theory, provide households with Fox’s version of the network morning shows. The day-and-date series is expected to start taping between noon and 1 p.m. Pacific time, and the prospect of going live ensures an ambience of “organized chaos,” as well as younger demos.
Celebrity interviews and more intimate performances will be held upstairs, where 100 to 120 seats await select audience members. In addition, the show will open with the water-cooler buzz of the day, be it entertainment- or politics-driven, and will feature updated polls on topics such as “How will the new J.Lo movie fare?”
For distributor Twentieth Television, the prospect of creating an afternoon Hollywood-based news/entertainment destination was too tempting to pass up. Rumors abounded that stations wanted the show to air as early as September, but Twentieth President of Programming and Production Robb Dalton said the series needed to be molded carefully in order to work.
“Because Ryan is going to be broadcasting there five hours a day on the air, we have the potential to create the Hollywood version of the celebrity press tour,” Mr. Dalton said. “Within the span of a few hours we will be able to shuttle someone like Will Smith from L.A.’s top morning show in `Good Day L.A.’ and the nationally syndicated `Good Day Live’ to Ryan’s studio where they can do Ryan’s television show followed by an interview on his national radio program. Throw in a stop at our sister television company in the TV Guide Channel across the street, and that still leaves plenty of time to hit Leno in the afternoon. That’s 35 million people you’re reaching in a span of a short day.”