The numbers for E!’s red carpet coverage dipped by over a third as the veteran TV personality faces allegations of sexual harassment
Updated: March 7, 2018
Ryan Seacrest is finding that allegations have consequences.
The television personality headlined E!’s coverage of the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday despite a detailed accusation of sexual misconduct emerging in the past week. (The 43-year-old accuser was cleared by a law firm of an earlier accusation due to insufficient evidence, he denies the allegations.) The founder of Ryan Seacrest Productions has long had a lucrative deal to host the lead-up to the Oscars, though E! was criticized for putting an alleged sexual harasser at the heart of Hollywood’s most glamorous event.
That said, it appears that E!’s move backfired. The red carpet coverage he anchored averaged 1.3 million viewers in the key demographic of 18 to 49 year old adults, down over 40% from last year, according to Nielsen Ratings. There was a smaller drop of about 35% among overall viewers. (While the Oscars ceremony also saw its audience dip, the decline for the red carpet coverage was much steeper.)
Indeed, the climate following the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements has already forced a few of the usual male Oscar fixtures—Harvey Weinstein and Casey Affleck—out.
Still, it initially seemed like it would be business as usual. Seacrest got the spot on the red carpet while co-host Giuliana Rancic hovered about 50 feet away at the Roosevelt Hotel. (Rancic’s seemingly backseat role did not go amiss, especially given the flak E! has received for its dispute with former correspondent Catt Sadler over gender pay disparity.) Despite chatter that some publicists would prefer their clients avoid Seacrest altogether, E! denied reports that it’d programmed in a 30-second live delay in case the veteran red carpet host was confronted.
And fuck Ryan Seacrest
— roxane gay (@rgay) March 4, 2018
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) March 5, 2018
But as the show went on, it increasingly seemed that Seacrest had been relegated into a supporting role. Though she wasn’t on the red carpet, Rancic appeared to be anchoring the coverage—diverting attention to Seacrest only when he had a guest interviewee with him. That discrepancy lead to strange moments like a cut from Rancic discussing Casey Affleck’s absence, to Seacrest. And this year, it seemed like Seacrest wasn’t able to attract the usual glitzy crowd, instead largely drawing on a stream of B-listers like Disney starlet Sofia Carson and his friend Diane Warren. Somewhat mawkishly, Seacrest’s daytime TV colleague Kelly Ripa dropped by to check on him and tell him how great he was.
As with the Golden Globes, the women’s empowerment conversation was expected to be front and center, but Seacrest’s presence made it challenging for E! to cover. His interview with Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer glossed over how the 88-year-old screen icon only took on the role of John Paul Getty in “All The Money in the World” after Kevin Spacey was forced out due to sexual harassment charges.
That’s not to say the #TimesUp crew was missing from the Oscars. Harvey Weinstein accusers Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek were on the red carpet and slated to present awards. Also present were the vocal feminist actors Laura Dern and Ashley Judd.
But for the most part, it was left to Rancic and E! reporter Kristin dos Santos to preach the importance of diversity and refer to stats about how few women and ethnic minorities were employed in Hollywood. As such, there was much chatter on social media about how, at an event for an industry under siege for its treatment of women, a possible harasser was being protected.
imagine going out of your way to protect Ryan Seacrest lmao literally the world’s most replaceable man
— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) March 4, 2018
E! taking steps to protect Ryan Seacrest from embarrassment like he’s the beloved king emeritus of the People’s Republic of Stupid Bullshit
— erin ryan (@morninggloria) March 4, 2018
As The Onion noted in one of its headlines, with a picture of Seacrest: “Perverted Creep Keeps Asking Women What They’re Wearing”
This story was updated on March 7 2018 with news of the Oscar red carpet ratings
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