Metro Atlanta native Ryan Seacrest will take up permanent residence next to “Live” host Kelly Ripa.
“I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be here,” Seacrest demurred after being introduced as Ripa’s permanent new co-host.
As his first show wound down Ryan popped a cork and the two shared a toast.
“This is going to be the most fun I’ve ever had,” he said.
“Get to know your subway system,” Ripa said by way of advice for the new guy.
After a triumphant entrance in front of a giddy audience, the two glided right into co-host banter, discussing Ripa’s recent stomach bug and joking at how hard it was to keep the big news under wraps. Ripa praised her kids for keeping quiet and quipped that they don’t call things a “secret” anymore; they call them a “Seacrest.”
Then it was on to regular talk-show stuff: demo of a new product that helps people spot early signs of possible skin cancer, tips on having a long and happy marriage, “Spring Travel Trivia” complete with confetti cannons and such.
They welcomed Chris Pratt star of Atlanta-filmed “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2,” them as their first guest. (The movie is out Friday.)
Ryan is 1993 Dunwoody High School graduate who began his media career sneaking into Star 94’s radio studios as a high school sophomore, working his way into a three-year DJ gig at Atlanta’s biggest Top 40 station, according to this profile on Seacrest by my AJC colleague Rodney Ho. He parlayed that into a series of radio and TV jobs in Los Angeles, leading to high profile gigs like hosting “American Idol” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.”
Seacrest‘s affinity for the spotlight goes back to his elementary school days, Ryan’s mom told RoHo.
“Instead of playing with G.I. Joes or cowboys and Indians, he’d always have a little microphone and do shows in the house, ” recalls his mom, Connie Seacrest, who now resides in Sandy Springs with his dad Gary, an attorney.
With a Radio Shack mixer, he made tapes for friends.
At age 16, during the days when Paula Abdul and Color Me Badd ruled the airwaves, he ingratiated himself with Star 94 (WSTR-FM) nighttime disc jockey Tom Sullivan, who gave the persistent song-request caller a tour of the studios. Sullivan, who had started his own radio career at 18, let Seacrest hang out every evening, taking calls and learning radio production while occasionally doing homework.
“He was a quick study, ” Sullivan said. “I loved his enthusiasm.”
The reveal, of course, followed a commercial break.
“I’m so excited,” Ripa said during her opening remarks. “This is going to be great!”
Before making it official she thanked all the folks who sat in on a temporary basis.
“Through helping us out we all became family,” she said, also thanking her studio and television audience for its patience. “You guys are amazing.”
“Live” airs at 9 a.m. on Channel 2.
Ripa’s partnered with a steady stream of temporary sidekicks including Andy Cohen, Jimmy Kimmel and Christian Slater since former morning partner Michael Strahan exited about a year ago to focus on “Good Morning America.” She stayed away for several days, reportedly furious over how the announcement regarding Strahan was handled.
But the two patched things up and his farewell show was full of love and laughs. Ripa shared a video montage of highlights from his time on the show – including when they visited the White House, the salute to Strahan’s Hall of Fame induction and a slew of on- ocation stunts.
“The past few years we’ve had a lot of fun,” Ripa said. “We’ve made a lot of memories. We even learned a thing or two.”