Ryan, Meet Emmy

By Kathy Blumenstock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ryan Seacrest is quickly becoming America's TV host for nearly every occasion. He's about to add another event: first-time emcee for the Emmy Awards on Sunday night. "I've been to the Emmys for years, doing red carpet interviews and I've even been inside [the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles], but this time at least I know I'll be on the stage," he said.

Tapped for the gig last month, Seacrest called the three-week production preparation time "a massive luxury -- generally when I host a live telecast, whether it's 'Idol' or another show, I don't have but a day or so to get ready," he said. Seacrest's personal prep included "trying to drop a waist size or two on the treadmill and catching up on all the shows nominated."

Viewers should not expect a joke-filled evening from Seacrest: "I am not a comedian. There are a lot of very talented people who can deliver funny monologues, but I don't think I will pretend I am a stand-up comic."

Seacrest spends much of the television year in the "American Idol" spotlight, and also participates in a televised Christmas parade and the fabled Times Square New Year's Eve countdown. He even spins a weekly radio top 40 as a DJ. In February, he will take part in Fox's coverage of the Super Bowl.

"These are all major events in pop culture and to be the conduit, the one connecting an audience with these people [onstage] is what I have really always wanted to do," he said. "For the Emmys, I am there to know when to step in and step out. For New Year's Eve, you are wallpaper for the evening at a party. You realize these events are all great and exciting and you're lucky to be there."

Seacrest took a break from pre-Emmy meetings to chat with TV Week about football, television and . . . Larry King.

What will you be doing for the Super Bowl?

I'll be talking with those who are part of the entertainment. I'll cover the celebrities, the events around the game but the game itself I will leave to the experts. David Hill, head of Fox Sports, told me they want to do things a little differently this year, to look at the day as a bigger event than just the game. People who don't even watch football get together that day. It's a fantastic celebration for two great teams that is also a family tradition.

What did you want to be growing up, did you aspire to be on TV in some way?

I wanted to be Frank Poncherello. I watched "CHiPs" and wanted so much to be on the California freeways. Now that I live here, I'm on them too much. . . . I never wanted to be an actor, but was fascinated by the machine that was Hollywood. On "Diff'rent Strokes," when they took a tour of the Universal Studios backlot, I said, I want to see that someday. I used to pretend I was [disc jockey] Casey Kasem. I'd mow my lawn wearing my yellow Sony Walkman and listen to Casey. When I took over Casey's show, I got to do some of the things I was a fan of. Even Dick Clark's New Year's I watched as a kid.

You've also substituted for Larry King. How did that happen?

I met Larry in an airport in Europe about five years ago. I walked up to him and said 'I watch you and you're my idol.' You know, I tried to make an "Idol" joke but he didn't get it until Shawn, his wife, explained. Next thing you know I'm walking through the airport, carrying Larry's bags. He wanted me to come on the show as a guest. When I was on, he said he wanted me to guest host.

So you work Christmas and New Year's and the Super Bowl. Any plans to add more holiday events?

I haven't spent Thanksgiving with Garfield the cat floating above me yet, so I'm still available for that. And Easter is wide open. I'm usually in church for services that day but I could go early.

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