Ryan Seacrest has committed to more “American Idol.”
Fox announced late Monday that it had re-signed the host of the singing-competition series.
“Ryan is one of a kind,” Mike Darnell, Fox Broadcasting’s president of alternative entertainment, said in a statement. “His ability to engage the viewers, keep the contestants at ease during intense moments and adapt to any situation, especially during the live shows, solidifies him as the absolute best in the business.”
The network did not specify the length of the deal. But trade paper Variety reported that Seacrest had been signed for two more seasons and that he will make $15 million a year to host the two-nights-a-week show for five months a year.
To put that report in perspective, that’s a little more than half the salary Matt Lauer, NBC’s “Today” star, is being paid to anchor the morning program.
The signing comes just days after Seacrest informed Matt that he was joining the “NBC family” and that his first assignment would be to help Matt cover the Summer Olympics in London. That on the heels of months of speculation that Seacrest would be groomed to eventually co-anchor “Today.”
But for the next two years, at least, Seacrest is tied to “American Idol,” which remains the country’s most-watched program. “Idol” is broadcast live from Los Angeles — unlike “Today,” which is broadcast live from Manhattan.
Lifetime finally confirmed that tabloid darling Lindsay Lohan has been cast as Elizabeth Taylor in its biopic “Liz & Dick.”
See? Perpetual Internet hype-whisper does sometimes become fact.
Negotiations for that bit of casting were reported last fall, in the thick of Lohan’s interesting party, rehab, jail, house arrest, morgue-internship period.
Only in March was Lohan able to turn her attention back to “acting,” via a guest-hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” for which she got mostly poor reviews but really good ratings. Lohan attracted 7.4 million people to the March 3 “SNL” broadcast — the second-most-watched “SNL” of the season, behind only the episode hosted by NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. (Barkley had a huge ratings advantage because of a prime-time NFL playoff game that Saturday night.)
“Eureka!” shouted Lifetime. “We have our Liz!” — at least the network did in the Lohan biopic in our head.
“We are thrilled Lindsay will portray beloved Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor,” Lifetime Networks executive veep Rob Sharenow said in Monday’s announcement. “She is one of the rare actresses who possesses the talent, beauty and intrigue to capture the spirit of such a provocative icon.”
“I am very honored to have been asked to play this role,” Lohan said, returning the compliment. “I have always admired and had enormous respect for Elizabeth Taylor.
“She was not only an incredible actress but an amazing woman as well.”
Larry Thompson (“Lucy & Desi”) is producing “Liz & Dick,” and Christopher Monger (HBO’s “Temple Grandin”) is writing, but no word Monday on who will play “Dick” — a.k.a. Liz Taylor’s husband and frequent co-star Richard Burton — or when the flick will premiere.
Taylor was married eight times, but she married Burton the most (twice): He was husband Nos. 5 and 6. It was after her second break with Burton that she married John Warner, the former senator from Virginia.
Taylor is quoted as having said that Burton was one of three loves of her life, the other two being her third husband, Michael Todd, and jewelry.
Taylor and Burton met on the set of the 1963 Joseph L. Mankiewicz-directed, problem-plagued, orgy of excess called “Cleopatra.” They dumped their spouses and married in 1964.
In its announcement, Lifetime insisted that “despite their roller coaster romance . . . they shared an undeniable love greater than most people could have ever dreamed.”
Lifetime is on a bit of a roll these days, thanks in large measure to the new Sunday series “The Client List,” starring Jennifer “Love to Her Friends” Hewitt as a former beauty queen, mom of two and wife of an unemployed guy who lands a job at a massage parlor, only to discover it’s that kind of massage parlor, and they work on prominent members of society.
“The Client List” averaged 4 million viewers when it premiered as a two-hour movie/back-door pilot in July; the actual series debut, early this month, snagged 3 million viewers.
The season finale of NBC’s “The Voice” will not air May 8, from 8 to 10 p.m., as previously announced. The singing-competition season finale will instead air from 9 to 11 that night, NBC said Monday.
So what’s going on here?
NBC is expected to announce to advertisers in New York next month that it’s moving “The Voice” to the fall next season, in hopes of pocketing big “upfront” ad bucks. The network has had a lousy season and is struggling in fourth place among viewers of all ages — including the 18- to 49-year-olds who are the currency of broadcast TV.
“The Voice” is NBC’s highest-rated entertainment show, and those high ratings are spread over a hefty three hours of the network’s 22-hour prime-time schedule.
But while the show’s ratings are good — Monday’s performance show, for example, is averaging 17 million viewers (which, yes, includes that huge post-Super Bowl debut crowd) — “The Voice” has taken a ratings hit since ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” debuted its latest edition on the same two nights. Last week, for instance, “The Voice’s” Monday performance show logged 10 million viewers, and on Tuesday results night, 9 million.
NBC would understandably want to goose the ratings for “The Voice” finale, which airs just days before the network’s May 14 presentation to advertisers.
If the finale was aired as previously planned, “The Voice” winner would have been announced as some celebrity was getting the hook on “Dancing,” which has been pounding “The Voice” in terms of overall audience, although “The Voice” has hung onto its edge among younger viewers.
Pushed one hour later, “The Voice” will have one last “Dancing”-free hour in which to name a winner — and, it hopes, bag millions more viewers.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvcolumn.