Emmy-winning producer and television and radio host Ryan Seacrest has ridden the crest of reality television all the way to an empire. From origins on the airwaves to a dramatic rise to fame as the face of one of television’s most-watched competition series, Seacrest has risen to the ranks of the entertainment industry’s top influencers as the head of an eminent production company known for launching some of the genre’s most imitated concepts.
Born near Atlanta in 1974, the Georgia native showed early promise as an entertainer. His broadcast-friendly voice earned him airtime in high school and college, and he suspended his studies at the University of Georgia to answer the call of Los Angeles. Seacrest’s first appearance on the television scene, a position as host of “Radical Outdoor Challenge” on ESPN, was soon to be eclipsed by his most memorable career break.
In 2002, Seacrest landed an opportunity to co-host Fox’s fledgling reality show idea, “American Idol,” but by the following year, few fans remembered that he had ever shared the stage. Seacrest’s Emmy-nominated turn as host made him a celebrity, and he went on to host “American Juniors,” the program’s follow-up series for younger talent.
Opportunity knocked again in 2005, when Seacrest joined Dick Clark as fellow host and producer of the iconic “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” a position that cemented his status as one of the world’s best-known personalities. Still the face of “American Idol” after more than 10 years as host, Seacrest now commands one of the largest paychecks in the reality television industry.
Seacrest formed his production company, Ryan Seacrest Productions (RSP), in 2006. That same year, E! Entertainment Television awarded Seacrest a $21 million contract to produce and emcee network programming for three years.
His production company snagged an early hit with “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which premiered on E! in 2007. The show’s ratings demonstrated the popularity of the celebrity slice-of-life reality show idea, leading Seacrest and RSP to back three more Kardashian-centric spinoffs, “Kourtney and Kim take New York,” “Khloe and Lamar,” and “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.” A fifth celebrity-based reality series, “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated,” followed in 2008.
Seacrest returned to his competition roots with the RSP-produced “Bank of Hollywood,” which aired in 2009. He explored new reality territories in 2010 with “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” which earned him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program. Since that time, Seacrest has continued to explore the possibilities of the genre, serving as producer of “Shahs of Sunset,” “Melissa and Tye,” and “Married to Jonas.”
Seacrest, whose success has also helped him found the Ryan Seacrest Foundation for ailing children, has become a household name so recognizable that his company is now considered a Midas touch for any new reality show idea. A youthful driving force behind a young genre, he is synonymous with the entertainment he has helped to popularize.
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