‘Live With Kelly’ EP Michael Gelman on Ryan Seacrest Hire: ‘He Was Our First Choice’

Executive producer walks TheWrap through show’s talks with “American Idol” alum

Michael Gelman made a big splash Monday, when it was revealed that Ryan Seacrest would turn “Live With Kelly” into “Live With Kelly & Ryan.”

The executive producer — and occasional on-air sidekick himself — walked TheWrap through the audition and hiring process a few hours after the “American Idol” alum’s debut.

“Some of them are real, actual candidates,” he said of the 67 guest co-hosts Kelly Ripa has shared coffee with over the past year. “Some of them are people that we like, but are probably not available. And other people are just a stunt.”

Seacrest pretty much fell into that middle “gray area” category, Gelman said — at least, at first. “He’s a pretty busy guy, and he’s got a lot of irons in the fire,” he explained, “So I wasn’t necessarily thinking he was available.”

“Then it was indicated that, ‘Hey, this really is great,’ and you know, it might be something,” Gelman continued. “And we kept him in mind, and we had him on some more, and some more — the same way it’s worked with other people.”

“At some point it was like, ‘Wow, this really could work,’ and [you] start talking,” he added. “So, it worked out, and we’re happy it did.”

When asked if Seacrest was the show’s first choice, Gelman considered the question for a few moments.

“We take it very slow,” he said, perfectly reflecting the speed of his answer.

“We weren’t turned down by any other people,” he ultimately went with, adding: “Yes, he was our first choice.”

Timing-wise, Gelman said it just so happened that this splashy hiring worked out in time for May sweeps — an important time for these daytime talkers to draw eyeballs.

“This was really when we made the decision and the deal got done,” he said.

How wonderfully fortunate.

Speaking of the actual contract, Gelman wouldn’t comment on its terms, other than to qualify it as “longterm.” When we asserted that means more than one year, he agreed.

“He’s here with us,” Gelman said. “He’s not just visiting for a short period of time.”

That means readers have plenty of time to get used to the newly rebranded “Live With Kelly & Ryan,” weekdays at 9 a.m. on ABC.

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