Poll vault: If Seacrest gets Olympic gold, what about Costas?


Ryan Seacrest arrives at the premiere of "New Year's Eve" in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (Matt Sayles/AP)
August 8, 2012

No end of news from the London Summer Olympics:

If TV viewers were in charge, Ryan Seacrest would win the gold medal for his coverage on NBC, trade publication/Web site the Hollywood Reporter announced Wednesday.

That’s because a new poll conducted by THR and pollster Penn Schoen Berland reveals that 78 percent of viewers say they’re satisfied with the job Seacrest is doing from the Games.

Seacrest is news at these Games because his participation for NBC is a sort of ribbon-cutting for his NBCUniversal deal that was announced in April.

Under the deal, Seacrest — already a personality at E! Entertainment, which was brought into the NBCUniversal fold when that company merged with Comcast — was named a “special correspondent” for NBC News’s “Today” show and a contributor to NBC’s prime-time Olympics coverage, starting with the London Games.

Right out of the gate — and probably through no fault of his own — Seacrest became the poster boy for NBC’s usual it’s-all-about-us coverage strategy when the network decided to cut the Opening Ceremonies’ tribute to the 2005 London bombing victims. Instead, NBC ran a Seacrest interview with American swimmer Michael Phelps in which absolutely no news was broken.

Since then, Seacrest has been nicked by critics and tweeters for his lack of sports knowledge, though he does not have a monopoly on that shortage among on-air NBC contributors.

Seacrest’s chat with female American gymnasts — in which he boasted that he had passed along their love for his BFF Justin Bieber, who would be sending them “a package” — also had some Olympics fans cringing.

Yet among 500 viewers polled, the aforementioned 78 percent gave Seacrest’s overall Games performance a “satisfactory” rating.

But wait! According to the poll, Dan Patrick — making his debut as one of NBC’s main Olympics hosts — got a 94 percent approval rating.

And 92 percent of poll participants gave Bob Costas, the granddaddy of NBC Games hosts, a thumbs-up.

So if Seacrest gets the gold medal, what do Patrick and Costas get? Shouldn’t Seacrest get the bronze?

Did THR give Seacrest the gold because it also scored a sit-down with the “American Idol” host and syndicated radio-show star in which he revealed, “Olympic athletes are celebrities, too . . . though athletes are typically a lot taller.”

In other Olympics poll revelations:

NBC has been plugging the heck out of its new prime-time shows during the Games. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a promo for the network’s “Revolution,” a new post-apocalyptic drama about the dangers of gun control and kudzu, from Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams. NBC even ran a 21 / 2-minute trailer for the show during Tuesday’s Games coverage.

Not surprisingly, 29 percent of poll participants named it as the new NBC series they were most interested in watching.

“Revolution” was followed closely in the poll by a new comedy about stay-at-home dads, called “Guys With Kids.” The producers include NBC late-night star Jimmy Fallon.

Matthew Perry’s new comedy, “Go On,” also scored well in the poll. (NBC was scheduled to air the entire “Go On” pilot episode, commercial-free, after Wednesday’s Games broadcast.)

Also making the list of new NBC shows that viewers were keen on seeing: Crystal the Monkey’s “Animal Practice,” which, according to the poll, is in a dead heat for viewer interest with Dick Wolf’s new NBC drama, “Chicago Fire.”

NBC plans to air the entire first episode of “Animal Practice,” commercial-free, after the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday. Wolf’s firefighter show is getting no such Olympics treatment.

Fallon not Oscars host

Speaking of Fallon, he stopped by the “Today” show’s London operations to tell Matt Lauer: “No, I’m not doing the Oscars. It’s an honor to be asked, but it’s not my year.”

That was in response to reports that the late-night star had been tapped to host the annual orgy of trophy dispensing to the year’s brightest luminaries in the motion-picture world.

His announcement was not surprising to anyone who has stopped to remember that the Academy Awards show has been broadcast on ABC for nearly as long as it’s been on television.

Which, apparently, the outgoing motion-picture academy president, Tom Sherak, did not stop to do when — in his boyish enthusiasm on his way out the door — he approached NBC late-night impresario Lorne Michaels about producing the Oscarscast, with Michaels protégé Fallon hosting. That is surprising because Sherak was the guy who brokered the new Oscar deal between the academy and ABC, as well as a global distribution deal with ABC parent Disney, that runs through 2020.

Sherak’s parting move came as a surprise not only to incoming motion-picture academy president Hawk Koch but also to various execs up and down the ABC and Disney food chain.

Per terms of its Oscar broadcast deal, ABC does not have veto power over the academy’s choice of hosts. But the network is supposed to be consulted because it has a rooting interest in what and who goes on its air.

And though ABC suits have been pretty broad-minded about Oscar hosts — they were okay with Comedy Central’s late-night star Jon Stewart getting the gig and also with NBC prime-time star Alec Baldwin sharing hosting duties with comic Steve Martin — the prospect of Fallon seemed as though the academy was carrying things a bit far, given that Fallon competes against ABC’s late-night star Jimmy Kimmel.

ABC recently appeared to have finally gotten behind Kimmel in a big way. He was the recent-ish selection to host next month’s Primetime Emmy Awards, because it’s ABC’s turn to broadcast that trophy show. The previous time ABC got that show — the major broadcast networks take turns airing the Emmys — the TV academy passed over Kimmel and instead asked a panel of reality-TV hosts to emcee the show.

Understandably, ABC did not want Fallon as Oscars host to eclipse Kimmel as Emmy host. Really, this isn’t rocket science.

So Fallon’s out, though Michaels might still be in. According to an exec who has knowledge of Sherak’s bright idea, Fallon never got as far as “negotiations” to host the Oscars — just “talks.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog
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