Streib, Lauren, Newsweek
Byline: Lauren Streib
The hardest-working man on the airwaves.
Call it the apotheosis of the anodyne. As an unflappably happy host, Ryan Seacrest's personality is nonthreatening and family-friendly, and given his presence across television and radio, it's also everywhere. In an age when celebrity scandals, romantic dramas, and fashion gaffes run an extremely profitable news cycle, he's a permanently smiling contradiction.
It helps that his career is built around being a milquetoast middleman between Hollywood and the masses. He's well known as the host of American Idol and co-anchor of E! News, as well as a red-carpet correspondent for the pre-Oscars special, emcee of ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve, and host of the syndicated radio show On Air With Ryan Seacrest. Despite the legions of teenage girls who reportedly chase him for autographs, Seacrest trades on being an outsider with access--he's in the celebrity world, but not necessarily of it.
His reach will soon extend to sharper fare. Thanks to an expanded contract with NBCUniversal, announced in late April, Seacrest will cover the London Olympics, Today show segments, and possibly the presidential election. The move is a testament to his appeal, but it's also a sign of the waning separation between news and entertainment and the rising pressures of live-event coverage. Seacrest's career trajectory is an indication of the difficulties his employers are having attracting an audience for which his easily digestible image could at least be a salve, if not a solution. …