Why Ryan Seacrest Should Take Larry King's Place

SEacrest host

Last night on his CNN talk show, Larry King announced that he would be retiring from his hosting duties this fall after six centuries on the job.  When asked who he’d like to see take his place, King dropped the name “Ryan Seacrest,” which had been bandied about months before as a possible replacement for King.

This morning on WGN radio, I heard Leslie Keiling immediately pooh-pooh this idea, lumping Seacrest in with Lady Gaga in order to highlight the “OMG! Isn’t this so ridiculous!” nature of an entertainment personality taking on such a serious job on such a serious news network as CNN.  Sure, Ryan Seacrest’s name is not synonymous with “gravitas,” but neither was Larry King’s back in the day.  King got his start as a radio DJ and he also spent time as a football color commentator.  Seacrest has been a DJ and an entertainment news anchor and a TV host.  
Here’s why I don’t think The ‘Crest on CNN is such a bad idea:

1. Seacrest is a hard worker.  While he could’ve been satisfied monetarily with merely his hosting duties on American Idol, Seacrest continued to host his morning radio show in LA.  Plus he added E! News DailyAmerican Top 40, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve program to his curriculum vitae and his presence improved the quality of all of these shows.  I have no doubt that he will do whatever homework is required of him to appear to know what he is talking about, and he will surround himself with a great team of writers to help him out in order to make the rebooted Larry King show a success.
2. Seacrest is not jaded.  Whether he’s interviewing Bono or Joe Jonas, Seacrest shows his interviewee the utmost respect.  Larry King Live! is not just about interviewing world leaders and politicians.  It’s about highlighting the newsmakers of the day, from whichever topical category they fall.  Can we really expect Katie Couric to sit there and seriously listen to what the Real Housewives of Anytown, USA have to say?  Do we really want her to? 
3. Seacrest doesn’t make it about himself.  I know the joke is that Ryan Seacrest is a big metro drama queen, but I think these comments come from people who don’t actually watch him perform any of his duties.  I used to be one of those people before I started watching (and subsequently writing about) American Idol.  I couldn’t see past his frosted tips and his skinny ties.  But then I began to notice the subtle brilliance of Ryan Seacrest.  He is a master at what he does, and what he does is much harder than it looks.  He sells every obviously manufactured moment.  He genuinely listens to the contestants.  He knows his job is to keep the show running smoothly, and he does that with aplomb.  He’d bring the same vigor (and youth) and respect for the show’s legacy to the Larry King show.
4. Seacrest is young.  He’s in touch.  He still has brain cells left to absorb new information and to mould himself into a multi-faceted TV host and interviewer.  He has all kinds of famous friends and contacts.  And, oh, his celebrity might actually bring some new much-needed viewers to the flailing CNN.
What do you think?  Is Ryan Seacrest the right fit for CNN?  If not, who is?

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