EXCLUSIVE: Concerns that sexual harassment allegations against Ryan Seacrest could see things become uncomfortable or even confrontational today on E!’s pre-Oscars Live From the Red Carpet show is leading the NBCUniversal outlet to be less than live in their broadcast.
As claims by a former personal stylist of misconduct by Seacrest have resurfaced in recent days, E! is now strongly weighing instituting a delay of up to 30 seconds and more on its coverage outside the Dolby Theatre co-hosted by Giuliana Rancic, we’ve learned. A major element in the possible decision for the 2 PM PT-starting show co-produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions is the tension potential tension that emerges between celebrities and Academy Award nominees will want to make the standard Seacrest pit stop today in the first place, what they may say, and how a lot of what happens could occur quickly and live almost.
“The plan being considered is to mainly ensure plenty of time to either cut to Giuliana or to pull the plug altogether unnoticed if an on-camera encounter with Ryan goes into tricky territory,” an insider tells Deadline. Another executive with knowledge of the situation confirms that the longer than usual delay is one of several “defensive scenarios” E! has on the regarding Seacrest on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s business as usual,” an E! spokesperson told Deadline this morning. “As always, we tape multiple sources of content simultaneously to deliver the best possible show, and there are often brief delays between interviews.”
While delays of around five seconds or so are not uncommon at live events like awards shows or their preamble, the pause on the table for Seacrest would be much greater. As it comes down to the wire for the red carpet show this afternoon, it looks like the ultimate decision will be made in the truck and by producers on the ground at the event.
Regardless, the length in discussion is in no small part revealing of the entanglement E! find themselves in as one of their marquee names for one of their signature events faces renewed scrutiny and face-to-face meetings with declared #MeToo movement and #TimesUp activist and supporters on soul-searching Hollywood’s biggest night.
The potential drama before ABC’s airing of the 90th annual Oscars comes just a week before American Idol’s much promoted and backed-on resurrection now on the Disney-owned net kicks off on March 11.
With sordid details of crotch-grinding, buttocks-slapping and more by Seacrest, ex-stylist Suzie Hardy went public last week after growing frustrated by the results of an E! investigation of her initial allegations of last fall. “The investigation, conducted by outside counsel, found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated,” E! declared on February 1, less than two months after Seacrest first made the allegations known in a preemptive move amidst assertions of a big-bucks shakedown.
As claims began to swirl about who exactly the probe spoke to and how much they may or may not have dug into Seacrest’s behavior, Hardy and her attorney spoke to our sister publication Variety on February 26 and tore into the “whitewashing” by E!, as the 2007-2013 employee termed it. In a segment aired on Today on February 28, an unnamed colleague of Hardy’s backed her story.
Still, E! last week reiterated its support for Seacrest, its investigation and his anchoring the Red Carpet show. However, if E! isn’t going to make a change, Hollywood in general is promising to. As lawsuits, claims and police investigations come forward, Tinseltown is still reeling from the revelations of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner and others in the past five months. In that context of this era of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and promises of greater discussion of gender discrimination, the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted 90th Oscars plan to spotlight the issue Sunday with silence breakers like Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra taking center stage. All in all, that’s obviously an environment where the often effervescent Seacrest now is looking more and more like someone high-powered publicists would want their clients to avoid on their way in, and E! fears the co-host himself could be the one answering the questions.
Hence, the potential enlarged delay to keep any pronounced snubs or awkward moments off the air.
In some part, having become the story himself, Seacrest could be the beneficiary of Rancic’s uncomfortable interaction with Debra Messing at January’s Golden Globes. That’s when the Will & Grace star took up the topic of E! News host Catt Sandler having recently left the outlet over pay inequity issues with the clearly shocked Red Carpet co-host. Shifting to respond to the new normal of Hollywood, E! and the LIVE With Kelly and Ryan co-host does not want to be left red in the face on the Oscar carpet today – even if that means going off the air in some fashion.