Ryan Seacrest was a local Los Angeles DJ when he was picked by Fox’s head of alternative programming Mike Darnell as co-host and then sole host of American Idol. Seacrest became a TV star and has gone on to expand into producing and build a mini reality empire. “Mike Darnell was a pioneer in reality television,” Seacrest said today about Darnell’s decision to depart Fox. “He brilliantly paved the way for all of us, creating a powerful entertainment genre that audiences can’t get enough of. I’ve had the privilege of working with him for more than a decade, and I’ve learned so much from him. He has been an inspiration for imparting his creative genius constantly, a mentor as I launched my production company, as well as a dear friend. I’m excited to work with him as he blazes a new path in his incredible career.” Seacrest has one more year on his current blockbuster Idol contract and, with Darnell gone and the current judges and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe also likely out, he may be the only key auspice returning next season, providing continuity.