Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Boob Tube: The Secret of Seacrest!

Nikki Finke mentioned that American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will most likely be looking for a new agent because his current agent will be handling the consolidation of Seacrest's considerable media mini-empire.

Now this fellow has his haters, declaring that he symbolizes everything wrong with Hollywood, because he's successful when he has no appreciable talent.

And that's his job. The secret to his success is that he has no talent.

Allow me to explain....

I'm no Seacrest expert, I don't watch much more than few minutes of American Idol at a time, and only when whatever I was watching was on commercial, so I'm not as engulfed in the Sea of Seacrest as some people are. But I think I've seen enough of him to figure out his secret.

He's a star, because he doesn't try to be a star, and he works very hard at not being a star.

And that's a rare gift, rarer still in today's Hollywood.

Seacrest's gift, is as a host or master of ceremonies, he comes on, does his intro, makes the occasional crack at Simon Cowell, segues to the next singer, and then promptly gets the hell off the stage. He doesn't sing, act, dance, or tell very good jokes, and he doesn't even try.

He's the avatar of the audience, the blandly pleasant, occasionally sympathetic, everyman surrounded by people who have more talent than he has, but couldn't do his job. Because someone with more of the traditional show-biz talents would try to outshine the singers and judges, and make the show about themselves. He seems to understand that the show isn't about him, it's about the competition and the people playing and judging that competition, and he accepts that.

He's also hard working, with TV and radio projects going on 24/7-365, and I believe that audience likes a hard worker. They like to see people trying to make their money honestly through that Horatio Alger-like mixture of pluck and luck, and rewards them accordingly. He knows he has a limited range and lifespan when it comes to a career in showbiz, and he is just trying to make sure he doesn't wind up broke in a dumpster behind a rehab clinic.

Another secret is that he knows when to shut the hell up. You don't see him flying off to the Middle East to hug dictators or terrorists, and make broad pronouncements on the good and evil natures of certain politicians/policies. He doesn't run around condemning the audience that ultimately pays his salary because of their religious/cultural/political beliefs. On those issues he remains a cypher, an unknown, a blank slate, allowing the audience to relate better to him, because when they see his face, they don't see Saddam Hussein, or even think about politics.

So I guess you can say that the secret to Seacrest's success is that he knows his place, and how to make that work for him.

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