photo: FoxThe Hollywood Reporter is reporting that, despite rumors that he would leave "American Idol" after Season 11, Ryan Seacrest has officially signed up for two more years on the show he helped make famous. Ryan will continue to rake in the annual salary he has made for the past three years, a cool $15 million (that's the same salary Jennifer Lopez earns on the show), despite "Idol's" recent 30 percent drop in ratings among viewers ages 18-49. "For the last 11 seasons, I've had the privilege to be a part of one of television's most iconic shows. It's been a wild ride, and I'm excited for my journey with 'American Idol' to continue," Ryan said in a statement Monday.
You know, there was a time when seriously I doubted whether Ryan really deserved to make such big bucks. But that all changed after one monumental, memorable night last year, Season 10's top 11 results show, when Ryan proved that live television hosting ain't nearly as easy as it looks. When the judges interrupted Casey Abrams' last-ditch performance midway through to excitedly announce that they were in fact going to use the Judges' Save on him, a shocked Casey suffered a major meltdown onstage, letting loose a torrent of curse words and practically a torrent of his own vomit. He then fell to his knees and almost had to be lifted and carried back to the stage by Ryan. It was definitely above and beyond the typical duties of a TV emcee, but Ryan, unlike poor Casey, totally kept his cool. I still wonder how Ryan didn't win an Emmy last year (he once again lost out to "Survivor's" Jeff Probst) after that trial-by-fire evening.
Compare that to, say, "The X Factor's" since-fired Steve Jones. Steve's utter inability to keep a live episode on schedule without barking like a drill sergeant at the judges, not to mention his total lack of empathy for eliminated contestants (we all remember the infamous nights he shooed Marcus Canty away from a sobbing Rachel Crow, told Lakoda Rayne "the dream is over," and back-announced "Bones" while the kids in InTENsity sobbed "inconsolably" behind him), proved just how difficult this unique sort of gig can be. And this totally helped me develop new respect and appreciation for Ryan Seacrest.
Sure, Ryan isn't always on top of his game. There was that weird night in Season 9 when he slow-danced with a male audience member during Tim Urban's performance, exchanged awkward double-entendre-laden banter with unamused guest Adam Lambert, and made a rude joke at fallen comrade Brian Dunkleman's expense, for instance. And yes, his results-show fakeouts ("I'm afraid you will have to say goodbye...to the bottom three! You're safe!") have grown extremely tiresome. (Though I admit I fall for this shtick, like a sucker, every time.) And no, Ryan doesn't exactly need his "Idol" income anymore, considering his other lucrative reality ventures (E!'s "Kardashian" franchise, Bravo's "Shahs Of Sunset"), syndicated radio show, and forthcoming NBC production deal. And sure, we all know that if there's any reality TV host who really deserves $15 million, it's "So You Think You Can Dance's" utterly amazing Cat Deeley.
But all that being said, "American Idol" has been through many major overhauls during the past couple years, and Ryan has been one of the show's few constants since Season 1. So yes, $15 million is a lot of money, but keeping "Idol" just a little bit old-school? That might be priceless.
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