Friday, July 10, 2009

Ryan Seacrest Nears New Megadeal

This is ... a rich new deal for "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest.

The ubiquitous Seacrest is putting the finishing touches on a contract extension with "Idol" co-producer 19 Entertainment to continue to emcee the top-rated series on TV.

The pact, which is believed to be for three years, will give Seacrest a major pay raise and make him one of the highest-paid reality hosts on television. He made slightly less than $5 million this season for his work on "Idol," which breaks down to about $100,000 per episode.

Additionally, Seacrest is said to be expanding his relationship with 19 Entertainment, possibly to develop series with 19 principal and "Idol" creator Simon Fuller.

"Idol" is produced jointly by 19, Fremantle and Fox. All declined to comment on Seacrest's new deal, as did his attorneys at Hansen Jacobson, but the agreement is expected to be announced Monday.

In addition to his hosting duties on Fox's "Idol," E! News and on the radio -- where he has a daily show and hosts "American Top 40" -- Seacrest has made an entree into producing with such unscripted series as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," "Denise Richards: It's Complicated" and ABC's upcoming show starring British chef Jamie Oliver.

Seacrest traveled to the U.K. last month and met with executives at 19 to discuss a new deal.

He is not the only "Idol" star to use the show's off-season to hammer out a new pact for the show. The "Idol" judges also are negotiating new deals.

Uber-judge Simon Cowell has made statements suggesting that he might leave the singing competition when his contract is up at the end of next season. The British media has pegged his salary demands for staying on the show at more than $100 million a year.

The other judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi -- all have said they hope to close deals to return next season.

Though the ratings for the reality juggernaut have slipped in the past couple of years, "Idol" remains the highest-rated series on television by a mile and is a windfall for its producers.

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