Live with Kelly goes safe, staid with Ryan Seacrest

Live with Kelly goes safe, staid with Ryan Seacrest

After Janet Jackson and Nipplegate, we got warm and comfy Paul McCartney at the subsequent Super Bowl. Following Chris Rock's Hollywood-bashing second stint at the Oscars, producers went with chummy, celeb-friendly Jimmy Kimmel. 

Michael Strahan had a good run as co-host of ABC's morning show with Kelly Ripa, but after the show seriously botched the former NFL star's exit, it's no wonder that the new co-host is the innocuous — and ubiquitous — Ryan Seacrest.

"Given the radioactive fallout from Strahan's nuclear exit a year ago, execs were likely on high alert to avoid anything remotely explosive," says Vinay Menon, arts and life columnist for the Toronto Star.

The morning show realm remains an ultra-competitive media market, one that's incredibly sensitive to the vibes of its on-air personalities. 

Though even he's described himself as plain as vanilla ice cream, Seacrest is also regularly touted as one of the entertainment industry's hardest workers. He rose to fame as host of American Idol and inherited the mantle of "the new Dick Clark," in part for taking over the iconic broadcaster's annual New Year's Eve TV specials. 

You've also got Seacrest to thank for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which is just one of the shows from his eponymous production company (the Jennifer Lopez police drama Shades of Blue and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution are two others).

With Idol now off the air, it's understandable that Seacrest would accept such a high-profile new TV gig (even one that now requires dividing his time between his current base of Los Angeles and Live's New York studios).

In Seacrest, ABC gets a friendly face who has a history with Ripa (in addition to his guest stints, they began co-hosting holiday season Disney parade specials more than a decade ago) as well as an experienced live broadcaster, according to TV critic Bill Brioux.

Still, while Strahan was "a welcome change" for Live and ABC itself — the jovial NFL Hall of Famer helped extend the show to new audiences — it remains to be seen what Seacrest might ultimately offer.

Though undoubtedly qualified (Ripa can vacation with ease with Live in his hands), safe and predictable Seacrest was "such an obvious choice it's boring," says Television Critics Association president Amber Dowling, who feels Ripa has done a great job steering the ship with a wide range of guest hosts over the past year.

"I honestly didn't think they needed a new host," Dowling says, adding that the choice of someone who seems to have a similar style and perspective as Ripa is "a really big missed opportunity" given that her great on-air chemistry with Strahan was "because they were so different."

Moving forward, the heat will definitely be on, especially with former Fox News heavyweight Megyn Kelly's forthcoming NBC morning show just announced as a new rival.

Can Ripa and Seacrest unite to make morning magic?

"These qualities — along with the fact he won't wreak havoc behind the scenes — likely overshadowed all other considerations. The show did try a relatively new and diverse face last time with Strahan and that did not end well."