Monday, August 06, 2012

How Ryan Seacrest got his big NBC deal

Ryan Seacrest recently signed a huge deal with NBC. As a result, he's reporting from the Olympics -- proving himself as useful as cufflinks on pants.   Let’s go back and eavesdrop on the NBC negotiations.


An NBC VP of Business Affairs is sitting with Ryan Seacrest’s agent.

NBC: I’ve gotten a directive from upstairs to make a deal for Ryan Seacrest but I must admit, I don’t watch AMERICAN IDOL.  I’m familiar with the name but not so much his work. So with all due respect, what does he do?

AGENT: He hosts.


NBC: That’s it? You’re asking for hundreds of millions.

AGENT: He also interviews… sometimes. We can negotiate that separately.

NBC: We have hosts.

AGENT: Yes, but you don’t have Ryan.

NBC: What does he do that’s so special?

AGENT: Ask Fox, and Clear Channel, and E! TELEVISION. They’re paying him a combined $300 million.

NBC: For what?

AGENT: For being Ryan.

NBC: What does that mean?

AGENT: People love him.

NBC: Why?

AGENT: He has that… thing.

NBC: What thing?

AGENT: I don’t have to sit here and be insulted by you!  He's a personality!  A celebrity!  A pop icon!

NBC: Okay. Fine. We’ll move on. I’ll just assume he’s very talented… at something.

AGENT: Whatever that something is, he's the best at it!

NBC: The trouble is – we don’t need another host. We have lots of hosts.

AGENT: Oh, Ryan doesn’t want to host.

NBC: He doesn’t?

AGENT: No. He already does that.

NBC: So I’m confused. What are we buying?

AGENT: A versatile entertainer who can do it all.

NBC: Is he funny?


NBC: Can he act?


NBC: Can he sing?


NBC: Dance?


NBC: Then tell me again what “he can do it all” means?

AGENT: He can be a special correspondent for news and sports.

NBC: Has he ever done news or sports?

AGENT: Again with the insults?

NBC: Okay. Sorry. Where has he done news and sports?

AGENT: Nowhere.

NBC: So why does he want to do news and sports?

AGENT: Because he doesn’t do them already. But I'm sure he'll give the same flair to them as he does to the... other things he does -- all of them well. 

NBC: Does he even like news and sports?

AGENT: Well, he likes showbiz news. And he goes to Superbowl parties. So I’d have to say yeah.

NBC: What can he contribute?

AGENT: I can’t believe you’re asking me these questions. This is Ryan Seacrest. Ryan! Seacrest!

NBC: Okay. Fine. Can we put him on THE TODAY SHOW?

AGENT: You’d have to tape it.

NBC: Why?

AGENT: He has a morning radio show.

NBC: You mean he wouldn’t be exclusive to us?

AGENT: Well… semi-exclusive.

NBC: What does that mean?

AGENT: He’s not on CBS. And if you have the Dish Satellite and don’t get certain networks, you won’t see him on those either.

NBC: But he’s on everything else.

AGENT: A talent that big can’t be contained to one network.

NBC: Okay. Let me ask you. This talent – do all these other networks and radio conglomerates know what it is?

AGENT: They don’t have to know. That’s the beauty of it. I get them in a bidding war and the more they offer the more they assume the other guy knows.

NBC: So nobody knows what Ryan Seacrest does.

AGENT: All the more reason why everyone wants to be in business with him.

NBC: My head is spinning. Give me a few days. I’ll get back to you.

AGENT: Okay. Fine. Listen, now that I’ve got you. I think we should talk about re-negotiating my other client’s deal.

NBC: Who’s your other client?

AGENT: Carson Daly.



Johnny Walker said...

Ha! I can totally imagine a bidding war based on nothing more than the fear that the other party knows more.

That's a good agent!

daniel in cherry hill said...

still prefer brian dunkleman

Anonymous said...

Letterman nailed it on this one: Empty Suit/Dress.

Kathy said...

You neglected the part where NBC said "Yes! We'll give him everything! He can talk about Facebook!"

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Bell said...

There is a word for this: Ryanessence.

Famous! said...

I used to think that these companies which were pouring all their financial eggs into one Ryan Seacrest basket were just begging for disaster if, God forbid, an accident should personally befall the man.

Then it occurred to me that "what he does" is not even relevant. The corporations who rule the world are "partnering" in a "brand". Ryan is no longer a "person"; he's a "brand"! These companies got together a long time ago and decides that if "celebrities" are what tickled the public's fancy, why then, they'd simply manufacture their own ultimate, focus-tested, malleable "celebrity".

And if that low-flying zeppelin were to smack him upside the head and send him to meet his dead Alabama relatives. do you know what all these heavily-invested corporations would do? They'd hire someone else to be "Ryan Seacrest".

Think of "Batman". One mask, 62 "Batman"'s. The franchise is bigger than some actor.

Jeffrey Mark said...

I'm just waiting for the "Reality" show of his to come on. I think it would be a big hit. Just strap a camera on his back and follow him around LA day in and day out. Fascinating television it would make.

Jeffrey Mark said...

...Call it...The Ryan Seacrest Hour. (Original, ain't it?)

Peg F. said...

So, Ryan is a PR latter day Monkee? If it works once...Ah, the tv universe: an endless loop. Just a coupla words of advice: Power off.

The Guy Playing In Short Left Field said...

Fuck. Ing. Hysterical!

Unknown said...

Nice, Max!

Michelle said...

I often wondered that myself Ken. How is it that people with little talent above reading a teleprompter and a 5th grade education from Arizona State get these huge deals from corporations that should know better. Though, this is NBC we're talking about so I guess desperate is as desperate does.

Ron Rettig said...

So I'm guessing you're not in a development deal with Ryan.

Mike said...

What a ridiculous post. Seacrest is quite talented.

There are lots of reality hosts, but Seacrest gets selected because he actually keeps track of everyone and knows what to ask.

He would do a good job on the news broadcasts as well, replacing Brian Williams, or one of the other anchors.

Chuck Warn said...

Seacrest out...nevermore.

Little Miss Nomad said...

@Mike "He actually keeps track of everyone and knows what to ask" is worth $300 mil? What? Though, Ken, I feel like at least $200 mil of that is due to the fact that he's the mastermind behind the horror show that is the Kardashians.

Tim W. said...

As someone who has never actually seen American Idol, either, and has only seen Seacrest very briefly before, I always wondered what exactly the deal was with him, so thanks for clearing it up....I guess.

Of course, he's probably the perfect new American host for the Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian generation.

Tom Quigley said...

I imagine that ABC/Disney/Buena Vista (whatever they called it back then) had a similar conversation about 30 years ago when they signed Regis.

Hack Wilson IV said...

NBC could've saved a few million and signed Adam Corolla.

Mike said...

This made me laugh -- but only until I realized it puts into words thoughts that probably aren't far from true. Then it made me sad.

MikeinSeattle said...

Back in the late '80's I was working on the Disney lot in Burbank. One day I was playing hooky sitting on a park bench along the sidewalk that led from the visitors lot to the old main building where the offices of Eisner and Katzenberg et al were back then.

A woman walked by wearing an incredible and what must have been incredibly expensive cream colored suit. This suit had the shortest skirt I had ever seen with a suit. She was beautiful. Amazing. And she knew it. You should have seen the smile on her face as she caught the reactions of me and the other men as she strutted on that sunny afternoon.

When I hear about agents like this, I think of her. I wonder what she was selling that day? I wonder if she sold it?

RCP said...

It's called Charisma, Ken - and Ryan is lousy with it. Now if you'll excuse me, a Nigerian prince is about to make me rich!

Paul Duca said... trouble selling when the buying interest is so obvious.

Anonymous said...

What Seacrest has is extreme like ability. Listening to him with the Idol contestants, even the awful ones, then listen to whatever his name was with X-Factor and you see the difference. Seacrest comes off as caring and friendly and he's never less than inviting to the audience. He's like Garry Moore, Dick Clark and many other hosts; you're not threatened with him and he makes the show comfortable. For certain types of shows that's all you need. He was not good on the Olympics because he didn't connect with the material, but he's really easy on the brain on other shows. I wouldn't turn on a show because he's on it but unlike some I wouldn't turn it off either. He's the Jell-O of hosts and there's always room, yadda yadda.

Phillip B said...

These guys have always been around.

Try to explain to a young person what Arthur Godfrey did so well that he had three network TV shows simultaneously.

Or why Gary Moore had a variety show. Ed Sullivan I can explain.

Ryan is has all the on screen presence of Dick Clark, without any of the business genius. (Although he is probably making more more money!)

D. McEwan said...

"Mike said...
What a ridiculous post. Seacrest is quite talented...
Seacrest gets selected because he actually keeps track of everyone and knows what to ask"

So there we have it. Seachrest's undetectable talent is that "he can keep track of everyone." Well, he's got me beat there.

Several commenters have floated the theory that he's "likeable". Ah, no, not really.

You know, my Aunt Hazel kept track of everyone really well also. So is Ryan my Aunt Hazel, only without the butterfly sunglasses, and the constant smoldering Camel unfiltered cigarette? No. Hazel was likeable.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

You had me right up until you compared him to Carson Daly. Even to Ryan Seacrest that's a cheap shot.

Jake Mabe said...

We once were treated to Jim McKay at the Olympics.

Now, we get Ryan Seacrest.

This week's sign of the apocalypse???

Jake Mabe said...

This comment from a person named "Mike":

"He (Seacrest) would do a good job on the news broadcasts as well, replacing Brian Williams, or one of the other anchors." *the* most ridiculous statement I have read or heard during this entire calendar year.

Seacrest as anchor and/or managing editor of an evening newscast?

It would be an even bigger disaster than Katie Couric. At least Katie knew enough to grill Sarah Palin.

Mike Barer said...

I have not seen any of Seacrest's reports, but I remember when Howard Cosell would first do reports in the Olympics, before he was a household name, I doubt that his reports are as insightful as Howard's usually were.

Unknown said...

I think you're giving the current crop of NBC programming execs too much credit here. They might be trying to make a play to create "American Hostess", a show based on the idol format to find America's next best Host. Piers Morgan, Seacrest and Larry King will judge, with guest judges like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Jenny (the Rockville, MD Red Lobster Hostess - you don't know her, but she's hot... I figure that's really the only qualification she has that you would need to know about). The real question would be: Who do you get to host a show about hosts, when America's favorite host is a judge? And to answer my own question, NBC will pay an additional 30 million to create a robot with the same features as Ryan Seacrest (hopefully this one will have a bit more personality).

Just imagine the crowds of 15 year olds who have always dreamed of doing nothing and getting paid millions, flocking to convention centers across the country. 

Maybe I was a bit harsh at the beginning, NBC might be making the right move here.

Oh, and the winner gets to host their own reality TV show called: "What Do I Do Again?"

Michael said...

Godfrey and Moore started out in radio in the days when a DJ didn't even do "patter" between songs, but often had to fill hours on the air. In Moore's case, he actually was Jimmy Durante's on-air straight man on a radio show for several years, so he had comedy chops. But what you say about being likable is important. People who stay on the air a long time have to wear well. They also need to be able to actually DO something while they're on the air.

Mike said...

Jake, most of the news anchors are just reading reports put together by others. They may have a little background knowledge, but I doubt they have great policy depth behind it. I think Ryan Seacrest would do pretty well as an interviewer, or newsreader. Or perhaps one of those election night gigs where there is a host handing off to a table full of pundits.

Jake Mabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Mabe said...

Maybe on a two-bit 21st century equivalent of a UHF station's nightly newscast, but not on one the big three networks.

Reading work by others isn't all they do. Cronkite, Rather, Couric and (I think) Pelley were/are also managing editors.

Pit either Scott Pelley or Brian Williams against Ryan Seacrest in U.S. and International News 101 and they'd eat his lunch in sixty seconds or less. He'd make those two clowns on Comedy Central look like real journalists.

bevo said...

Ryan Seacrest strikes me as a Pat Sajak clone except without Sajak's intellect or wit. OTOH, I would watch Seacrest over Brian Williams on the Nightly News.

MikeN said...

We've seen people like Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews bomb on Jeopardy. I doubt Brian Williams or Katie Couric would do better.

Unknown said...

Thanks. Basically sums it all up. Thankfully, they have shelved him

Charlie O'Brien said...

So funny, yet so true. Long live the United Stations/Nations of Ryan Seacrest Enterprises.
Annointed from the ashes of Dick Clark's empire comes Mr. Can-do-it-all -- whatever it is.
God Bless Us All - he's omnipresent.