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On the Red Carpet, Ryan Seacrest Is a Distraction in an Important Year

From TIME - March 1, 2018

Ryan Seacrest sits at the center of a painstakingly constructed media empire based entirely on his own image as an amiable, harmless, deeply pleasant guy. But now, there have been reported allegations against Seacrest by a former stylist, allegations Seacrest has denied in a statement, citing a workplace investigation: Ultimately, my name was cleared. I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.

Still, given the general tone of the conversation around workplace assault and the responsibilities Seacrest bears in general, the best thing, for Seacrest and for his audience, would be to step away from the spotlight. The problem is that he cant.

Seacrest, who cohosts Live with Kelly Ripa and is the host of the upcoming American Idol, has as his most pressing upcoming commitment the red carpet of the Oscars, where he is the master of ceremonies for the E! network. In the most hospitable of years, Seacrests presence amidst a story like this would be odd and uncomfortable but surmountable. But this year, the topic on the red carpet has been sexual assault in Hollywood, a topic that Seacrest now cannot realistically broach without creating a situation thats more than embarrassing. Its one in which he, presently embroiled in a scandal, cant be an impartial interviewer. It does him no good to be on the red carpet but it also does no good to stars who might have something to say about the biggest Hollywood story in a generation or more, or to viewers hoping to soak up what seems to be a new frankness thats come over the red carpet.

After all, the Oscars red carpet will be the culmination of an extraordinary season in Hollywood. The broadcast of the Golden Globes was an awkward thing; Seacrest and his colleagues at E! seemed ill at ease questioning stars about the Times Up and #MeToo movements. At one moment, actor Debra Messing confronted E! host Giuliana Rancic over reported gender-based pay disparity among reporters at the network. It was exhilaratingan opportunity to bust past familiar cant and who-are-you-wearing rhetoric that inveterate carpet-watchers may not have realized they wanted.

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