By Brian Stelter, CNN
Ryan Seacrest has a few big decisions to make.
His contract to host "American Idol," once the biggest television show in the United States and still a linchpin of Fox's lineup, expires when the singing competition's next season ends in May. Another of his contracts, a wide-ranging one with NBCUniversal, comes due around the same time. Both are likely to be renewed in some form; the requisite talks are already underway. But the decisions in front of Seacrest — ones that any broadcaster would be glad to be facing — highlight how he's been able to work for so many competing media companies simultaneously. He recently extended his contract to host "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" for ABC and he leads two radio shows for Clear Channel.
When I interviewed him for CNN's "Reliable Sources" last Friday and asked how he pulls off this pretty unique juggling act, he joked about making sure to always remember which network he's on at any given time: "When I'm on Fox, I want to remember 'Fox.'"
More seriously, he added, "I really believe that every single one of those partnerships is equally as important."
He carved out time for the interview during the Los Angeles portion of Jingle Ball, Clear Channel's annual concert series in cities across the country. Seacrest's deal with the radio giant, valued at $25 million a year, will come up for renewal in 2015, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal terms. (They insisted on anonymity while discussing private contract details.)
But his business relationships with Fox and NBC require more urgent reconsideration. When I asked him if he'll continue to host "Idol" after this season, which begins in January and ends in May, he said, "I hope to host as long as they want me to host."
Seacrest acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the sharp ratings declines that "Idol" has suffered, particularly in the season that ended last May.
"We obviously did not deliver … the numbers that we wanted to deliver," he said before asserting that he had lost slept over the relative weakness of the ratings.
Looking ahead to this season, which involves an almost entirely new team of producers and judges, he said, "I want people to watch, and I want people who perhaps didn't watch last season to come back and see their 'American Idol' this season because we have put the show back together in a fun way."
I also asked Seacrest about NBC's "Today" show, since his current deal with NBCUniversal includes a special correspondent role on the morning show. Around the time the deal was struck in the spring of 2012, there was informed speculation in the press about Seacrest being in line to someday replace Matt Lauer on "Today." Lauer asked Seacrest about his interest in the "Today" show during an April 2012 interview:
LAUER: Do you see yourself doing a job like this?
SEACREST: You know, I don't know. I see you doing this for as long as you want to, so maybe the question is, how long will you be on the 'Today' show? … Because fans, myself included, think you should be here for years to come.
Subsequently, Seacrest has said that Lauer should host the "Today" show for as long as he wants to. So I asked him if hosting "Today" was still a possibility, and he answered this way: "Look, I mean, as far as I'm concerned, everything is a - I hope everything is a possibility. You know, I like to leave every door open. If it is open, I think that's up to them to decide."
At the moment, the door is not open — Lauer has not telegraphed any plans to leave the show. But NBC executives are dutifully thinking about a "Today" show succession plan anyway. In the interview, I told Seacrest that I thought he might be "too big" for the "Today" show — because he has too many other jobs and business ventures — but he circled back to his interest in the possibility, citing his love for live broadcasting.
"I truly thrive off of being on-air or on-stage in a live environment," he said.
NBC tried to launch a live prime time game show, "Million Second Quiz," with Seacrest as the host earlier this fall. "Quiz" turned in disappointing ratings; postmortems focused on the overly complicated game-play. NBC executives said they were pleased with Seacrest's performance.
Paul Farhi, Callie Crossley and guest host Eric Deggans weigh in on the allegations that NBC pays for interviews.
CORRECTION: The Toronto Star revealed it paid $5,000 for a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. On Reliable Sources Sunday Nov. 10, guest host Eric Deggans named a different newspaper.
By Elizabeth Cherneff, CNN
'Reliable Sources' is glad to welcome back NPR tv critic Eric Deggans as our guest host this week. We've got a busy show planned for Sunday, but in the meantime, check out these other media stories that caught our eye this week:
'Your Late Fees Are Waived: Blockbuster Closes' It's the end of an era for Blockbuster, which announced this week that it would be closing all remaining U.S. stores. And it didn't take long for movie renters of the 1980/90's to start cracking jokes on Twitter about not having to pay late fees in the wake of the announcement. "Yes! All the Blockbuster Video Stores are closing! That means they'll never get back that VHS tape of Vampire In Brooklyn. I won!" added actor and comedian Paul Scheer. Not to be outdone, 'he New York Times reported the news with a reference to the 1979 hit from the Buggles with the headline, "Internet Kills the Video Store."
'Stephen Glass' California bar admission to be decided in court' Disgraced reporter Stephen Glass became infamous across media circles in the late 1990's after it was revealed that he had plagiarized dozens of articles, complete with fake sources and websites, while working at The New Republic. Since then, he 's received his law degree from Georgetown University and passed California's state bar exam- now, he's back in the spotlight as the state's Supreme Court weighs whether or not to grant Glass the credentials to practice law in the state. The issue raises significant ethics questions for legal/media analysts, some who argue that Glass has proven his law capabilities while others point to his journalistic transgressions as a permanent stain on his record.
'Wait for it- Norway's Slow TV Revolution' Want to watch people knitting on tv? Norway has you covered. This week, Grantland blogger Tess Lynch highlights Norway's 'Slow TV' genre, which included 'National Knitting Evening' last week via NRK, the country's public tv company. And if you think people aren't interested, you'd be wrong, as more than 1 million viewers tuned in for this particular 4 hour slow tv viewing session. In an ever fast-paced media world that places a premium on disseminating news quickly, it appears Norway is taking the opposite approach – and it's starting to resonate with consumers.
'Matt Lauer, Al Roker have live prostate exams on 'TODAY" Viewers tuning into NBC's Today Show on Thursday got up close and personal with the show's male co-hosts this morning. In an effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer/preventative screenings, both Matt Lauer and Al Roker underwent prostate exams live on the show. The procedures took a mere 35 seconds and afterwards, doctors weighed in on the prognosis and follow up for each anchor.
Jane Hall and Paul Farhi return to the round table to join guest host Brian Stelter on NBC News' new president and the RNC chairman's threats against NBC and CNN.
Are various network/cable plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries sparking premature 2016 rumors? Marisa Guthrie, Matt Lewis and guest host Patrick Gavin weigh in.
By Becky Perlow, CNN
The "Running of the Interns" is a time honored tradition for the DC media. Respective news interns spend their summer vacations standing in sweltering, swamp-like DC heat, waiting for Supreme Court decisions to be handed down. This year, though, one intern in particular drew more attention than others: Dan Stein, an editor of the Yale Daily News, became a viral sensation after numerous media outlets showed him racing from inside the Court's press room to hand deliver the Court's decision (and dissent) to his company's awaiting correspondent, Pete Williams. Stein was later interviewed on NBC's "Today" and told the morning show team it was "an honor to be part of the history."
Irony can be a funny thing, especially when a collegiate program that is supposedly teaching students to edit their articles can't even seem to edit its own diplomas. According to Joe Carpenter, Radford’s chief communications officer, "1,481 undergraduate and graduate diplomas from fall 2012 and spring 2013 were misspelled."
Michael Graczyk, an Associated Press reporter who has covered Texas executions since 1984, can't remember how many executions he has witnessed, and to be honest, he doesn't really care to anyway. He is, however, able to recall very specific memories - from one inmate singing "Silent Night" as the lethal injection coursed through his veins, to another inmate's "pretty brown eyes" popping open as he died.
It's embarrassing enough to lose your job... but one British soccer club manager not only lost his job, but also lost his job on live television. According to Deadspin, Brighton & Hove Albion's manager, Gus Poyet "was officially fired when BBC producers printed out a press release from the team announcing the decision and it was read aloud for him on air."
By Elizabeth Cherneff, CNN
We’ve got a busy show coming up on Sunday. From the Justice Department seizing AP reporters’ phone records to the IRS targeting conservative groups, the Obama administration’s handling of several major controversies has been criticized across the spectrum. We’ll discuss the coverage of the latest Washington headlines in detail, but until then, here are some other reads that caught our attention this week:
Seth Meyers will return to ‘SNL’ this fall, leave for ‘Late Night’ in 2014: The late night television changes continued this week with NBC’s announcement that current SNL cast member Seth Meyers will replace Jimmy Fallon as host of ‘Late Night.’ In a ‘Today Show’ interview, Meyers confirmed to NBC’s Matt Lauer that he’ll stay with Saturday Night Live through the fall before starting his new gig next year. February 2014 marks Jimmy Fallon’s transition to ‘The Tonight Show’ slot, also coinciding with NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage. While many SNL fans will undoubtedly be sad to see Meyers go, this latest change reflects the networks’ push to attract younger viewers.
An inside look at Guantanamo Bay: Cuba’s most infamous detention center is the subject of author and Wall Street Journal correspondent Jess Bravin’s new book The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. In his latest novel, Bravin highlights the lack of legal precedent that makes prosecuting inmates even more difficult amid hunger strikes and calls to close the prison. With rising costs to maintain Guantanamo Bay and accounts of worsening conditions inside the cells, the topic is sure to remain a source of controversy across the political spectrum.
Which journalists accepted free laptops from Google? When it comes to reviewing the newest smartphones and laptops, trying out the latest gadgets is part of the job- but does it create conflicts of interest for journalists tasked with objectively covering the technology beat? At this week’s Google keynote address, Gawker media blogger Sam Biddle highlighted a possibly ambiguous loan agreement that may have allowed several journalists to keep some gadgets free of charge. The story highlights the bigger issue of news organizations’ ethics policies against handouts and not accepting gifts- in an evolving media landscape, it’s an ongoing conversation to be had amongst journalists and news executives.
Howard Kurtz on NBC's cancellation of Rock Center, Bloomberg reporters' data snooping & the Fox News mole's day in court.
By Laura Koran, CNN
On this week’s show, we will be taking a look at the media’s hits and misses covering the attack on the Boston Marathon. Tune in for that on Sunday, and see what other stories caught our attention this week right here.
The wisdom of Mr. Rogers: In the aftermath of terrible tragedies, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, people tend to seek out examples of human kindness to dispel the notion that the world is a dark and hateful place. It is not surprising then, that a meme featuring the beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers has gone viral since Monday’s terrorist attack. The image, circulating on social media sites, displays one of Mr. Rogers’ classic, heartfelt musings: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” As Reverend J.C. Austin points out, these simple words hold a deeper truth, and serve as a powerful reminder that the “helpers” are more powerful than the “haters.”
Is brevity the soul of good reporting? A chart recently released by Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review shows that the number of long-form stories (in this case, stories with more than 2,500 words) published by The Wall Street Journal has declined significantly over the past decade. The paper responded to the chart saying in part, “The number of words in an article has never been the barometer by which the quality of a publication or its value to readers should be measured.” But many, including Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic, are left wondering whether this new preference for shorter news stories can be attributed to the robust paywall on the paper’s website.
A fly on the wall: New York Times reporter Brian Stelter caught a truly lucky break when he was tipped off about a lunch between “Today” host Matt Lauer, and his former co-host Meredith Viera. That lunchtime chat, which Stelter surreptitiously eavesdropped on from the bar at New York restaurant Park Avenue Spring, provided the closing anecdote for Stelter’s new book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV,” which releases next week. Stelter recounts how Viera reassured Lauer that the slew of negative media coverage of his involvement in Ann Curry’s removal from the show would soon pass, telling him, “It’ll be O.K.”
Learning from history: A new documentary short premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival takes a look at The New York Times’ dismal coverage of the Holocaust during World War II. The film, “Reporting on the Times,” is the work of 22-year old filmmaker Emily Harrold, who hopes her movie can serve as a warning to news organizations covering (or not covering) human rights crises today. The Times has long been criticized for under-reporting on the Holocaust; criticism that the paper itself has called, “valid.”
Carole Simpson, Eric Deggans and Howard Kurtz dissect the latest rumors swirling around the NBC morning show.