Fans were thrilled when Just Sam was remotely crowned the winner of American Idol Season 18 on Sunday night’s remote finale. But those viewers were also concerned when Ryan Seacrest, hosting the show from his living room in Los Angeles, seemed out-of-sorts and not his usual professional self.
Public concern grew Monday morning, when Seacrest’s Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host, Kelly Ripa, announced that Seacrest had opted to take the morning off after his night-shift on Idol. (Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, filled in as a last-minute co-host.)
Towards the end of Sunday’s Idol broadcast, the normally unflappable Seacrest seemed to be struggling to read his teleprompter, and his left eye suddenly took on a strangely bulging appearance.
Observant fans took to Twitter to express their alarm, even speculating that the 45-year-old veteran TV and radio personality had suffered a stroke.
What happened to Ryan Seacrest and his eye?? #americanidol— Natalie Galpern (@nataliegalpern) May 18, 2020
"Ryan did not have any kind of stroke last night,” Seacrest rep insisted in a statement to People. “Like many people right now, Ryan is adjusting to the new normal and finding work-home balance, with the added stress of having to put on live shows from home. Between Live with Kelly and Ryan, American Idol, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, and the Disney Family Singalong specials, he has been juggling three to four on-air jobs over the last few weeks and he’s in need of rest. So today he took a well-deserved day off."
While Seacrest is known for being a consummate professional who typically thrives under pressure, this is not the first time that his appearance on Idol has caused concern.
A decade ago, on American Idol Season 9, his erratic behaviour on one episode — grabbing a random audience member, whom he claimed was Season 8 contestant Michael Sarver, for an impromptu slow-dance (which distracted the contestant trying to perform at the time, Tim Urban); conducting an awkward, innuendo-filled interview with Adam Lambert; and taking what seemed like a nasty potshot at his former Idol cohost, Brian Dunkleman — created a stir on social media. His antics at that time had viewers thinking he seemed overworked, but Seacrest shrugged off those claims, saying he was “just in a good mood.”
As of this writing, Seacrest has not personally commented on fans’ concerns about his Season 18 American Idol finale appearance.