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Seacrest: Riding Wave Of Success

He is the man that helps keep the popular FOX television show "American Idol" energetic, loose and moving forward.

With his successful introduction to American audiences last year, 27-year-old Ryan Seacrest is keeping busy hosting the second season of "American Idol" and serving as a correspondent for "The Tonight Show."

Seacrest visited The Early Show to discuss the current crop of pop-icon hopefuls and some of the surprises this season.

He explained last week over 20 million viewers watched "American Idol" and some may have been disappointed to discover no one was eliminated from the next round.

The reason: Corey Clark, one of the nine "American Idol" finalists, was booted from the competition last week after producers learned of misdemeanor charges of battery and resisting arrest on his record.

FOX executives said the 22-year-old Kansas native, the third contestant to be disqualified this season, withheld information about a prior arrest, which had it been known, might have affected his participation in the show.

"I think that it was fair," says Seacrest. "Over 15.4 million votes came in last week, and what we decided to do was add those votes to this week's competition. So it will be a cumulative response. So coming up on Wednesday night, the person who is eliminated will pull from the votes from the week prior as well as the votes that they generate or don't generate this week.
But Seacrest says the remaining contestants' morale is still intact. He says this year's group is much more aggressive about the show, and realize if they make it to the top, they definitely develop a fan base.

As host, Seacrest is the middleman between the judges and contestants. And sometimes, he may help soothe some egos after what seems to be some verbal bashing or critiques, especially coming from BMG Record Executive Simon Cowell.

However, Seacrest says behind the camera he and Cowell are good friends. He explains that the show seen on television is entertainment and there is nothing wrong with that, especially with a bombardment of war coverage the past weeks.

"Putting things into perspective, what we're doing is very trivial relative to what's happening in the Middle East," says Seacrest. "The show is there for entertainment, and hopefully if you flip it on at the end of your day and you sit down with your family we can entertain you for an hour or so."

One of the final contestants, Joshua Gracin, may be directly affected by the war in Iraq. He is a U.S. Marine who may be called to active duty at anytime.

"With Josh, you know, he's gotten better and better with each week that goes by on our show," says Seacrest. "And what the producers have decided is if he does have to leave and fulfill his requirements and duties he'll be allowed to come back in season three and pick up exactly where he left off."

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Seacrest's career in broadcasting began at the age of 16 when he applied for an internship at one of Atlanta's top radio stations, WSTR/Star 94. The station offered him the nighttime slot, and the show became one of the station's highest-rated programs.

While working at Star 94, Seacrest finished high school and went on to attend the University of Georgia where he majored in Journalism. During his freshman year in college, Seacrest hosted ESPN's "Radical Outdoor Challenge."

In 1995, Seacrest moved to Los Angeles to host "Ryan Seacrest For the Ride Home" on Star 98.7 FM (KYSR). He also has a live, nationally-syndicated performance show, featuring big name music artists.

Seacrest's other hosting credits include "EXTRA Weekends," E!'s "Talk Soup," NBC Saturday Night Movie series, the "Radio Music Awards," "The New Edge" for the Sci-Fi channel, ESPN, and "An Evening at the Academy Awards."

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