Friends’ private fears for Ryan Seacrest
Known as the hardest-working man in show business, Ryan Seacrest rarely takes a day off. So when he took an unscheduled one from co-hosting the US morning show Live with Kelly Ripa on May 18, there was cause for alarm at the show's network, ABC.
An ABC source told The New York Post that some members of the show's production team were made aware of Seacrest's absence less than 30 minutes before they were to go live on air.
"It was a last-minute thing and there was a sense of panic at ABC when we were told that Ryan couldn't make it that morning," the ABC source revealed.
Just hours earlier, the 45-year-old had prompted serious fears for his health during the American Idol finale - when, while broadcasting from his Los Angeles home, he struggled with words, seemed confused and had a visibly droopy right eye.
Seacrest's reps were forced to deny that the host had suffered a stroke amid frantic tweets from worried fans.
The next morning, when Seacrest had to bow out, Ripa's actor-husband, Mark Consuelos, was able to quickly step in alongside his wife at their vacation house on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Live is set to go on a weeks-long scheduled hiatus next month, and sources close to Seacrest and within ABC say the timing couldn't be better.
"There are people at the network who are extremely worried that he is overdoing it," said the ABC source.
Added a television industry insider: "People internally have started to ask questions."
Seacrest has been spread thin, by choice, for a long time. Not only does he co-host Live every weekday, he also has a syndicated radio show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, which runs for five hours Monday to Friday, as well as the weekly American Top 40 music-radio countdown program.
He hosts American Idol and various specials - including two recent Disney Sing-A-Longs and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve - as part of his multimillion-dollar three-year deal with ABC. He hosts E!'s awards-show red carpet coverage, as well as contributing to the same for ABC.
His eponymous production company gave the world all the Kardashian family reality shows and spin-offs on E! - which Seacrest has referred to this as his "biggest contribution to the world", plus series such as Shahs of Sunse t on Bravo. He has skincare and clothing lines, among several other business ventures.
Perhaps no one should have been surprised when Seacrest returned to Live on May 19 and admitted to suffering from exhaustion.
Although he brushed it off - thanking viewers for their well-wishes and saying "I got a day off to relax" - an ABC/Disney source admitted: "People are worried. That Idol moment was extremely disconcerting."
According to a friend, his on-air breakdown is likely a culmination of years of workaholic tendencies catching up with him.
"People underestimate just how much work Ryan puts in every day. (Right now), he wakes up at 4am, has producer meetings by 5am and has to be ready to film at 6am LA time as Live goes on air at 9am EST. Add the radio show every day, in addition to hosting Idol and additional content for his platforms," said the friend. "He has definitely had to adjust his body clock.
"While some of us can turn off or take a break throughout our workday, he almost always has a camera on him or a microphone in his hand. He's always on."
But other sources say Seacrest's schedule is actually easier during the pandemic than it has been in the past, and wonder if there's more to the story.
Previously, Seacrest had to travel a couple days a week between Los Angeles and New York City, where he lives most of the time. He would record Idol in LA, then catch a red-eye to NYC to record Live and his radio shows.
But since March, Seacrest has been in lockdown at the Southern California estate he bought from good friend Ellen DeGeneres for $US37 million ($A54.8 million) and recording everything from his home studio.
"This whole time (he) has been in his house in LA because of the pandemic. It's been a lot of shooting, but people internally … are concerned about his fatigue," said the television-industry insider. "Everyone is rooting for him to be OK and knows he's a hard worker and juggling a lot of things - but he's a hard worker with no commute."
As for Idol, once the coronavirus lockdown hit, producers were forced to find creative ways to continue the show virtually, sending contestants smartphones, lighting rigs and cameras to film themselves.
"So much work went into those Idol shows, they weren't completely live, other than a few moments during the finale," the Seacrest friend revealed of the host's stress.
A representative for Seacrest had no comment.
In the past, at least, Seacrest's relationship with Shayna Taylor, a 28-year-old food blogger and trained chef, has also been a stress point.
Earlier this month, he reflected on their eight-year up-and-down romance on Live: "You know, when we drive by an amusement park, I always look at the roller coaster and go, 'Look, there we are.' It's all definitely upside-down loops."
The couple split in February 2019 after three years together, and a source told People at the time that it was because Seacrest wasn't ready for marriage.
"Shayna wanted more out of the relationship," the source said. "It felt like the natural next step for her. She was ready to get married, but Ryan wasn't there yet."
By September, the two had reconciled.
During the lockdown, Seacrest is said to stay in touch with his family in Georgia via Zoom, but hasn't been able to see friends.
"Although he has such a huge public persona, Ryan is actually very private. His friends are worried about him," said the ABC source. "They just want to see him for themselves and make sure he is OK."
Still, insiders say there is little chance of Seacrest scaling back his work duties.
This article originally appeared on Page Six and was reproduced here with permission
Originally published as Friends' private fears for Ryan Seacrest