Seacrest, out? During a press conference for American Idol over the weekend, producers revealed that Ryan Seacrest's contract as the show's longtime host expires at the end of the upcoming season (which begins next week), and that getting him to renew will be "a tough negotiation." In addition to his Idol gig, Seacrest hosts a morning radio show, produces several reality series — including Keeping Up With the Kardashians — and co-anchors E! News Live. Beyond that, there's rampant speculation that he's being wooed to join the hosting team at Today, should Matt Lauer leave at the end of his contract this year. Fox execs say it's "hard to imagine" Idol without Seacrest manning the ship, but pundits are starting to picture what the reality show might look like without the congenial host. Would American Idol still work without Seacrest as its emcee?

No way: When Simon Cowell and Kara DioGuardi were replaced by Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, the renewed enthusiasm for the show was attributed largely to the new judges, says Mack Rawden at Cinema Blend. But perhaps more of that success is "owed to another man." Seacrest played a pivotal role in making sure the transition was seamless. "He's the best live host on television." And "without his steady hand, I'm not sure the program could maintain its current viewership."
"If Ryan Seacrest leaves American Idol, will you still watch?"

Idol would likely survive: After the harsh criticism that X Factor host Steve Jones faced, Seacrest's value as a host is more apparent than ever, says Lanford Beard at Entertainment Weekly. More than anyone in the biz, he's able to move the proceedings along in a personable, credible, and entertaining way. Still, his departure might not doom the series. "I'm hard-pressed to think of a show where the hosts's departure has had a palpable, negative impact." He's a strong presence, but maybe not so strong that "his absence could take down Idol."
"Idol heads can't imagine the show without Ryan Seacrest. Can you?"

He's not going anywhere: It's seems highly unlikely that Seacrest would leave, says James Poniewozik at TIME. That Fox execs say they "can't imagine" Idol without him means they'll likely cave to any contract demand to keep him on the show. NBC is likely to take the same approach with Matt Lauer, which would lay the Today show rumors to rest. But even if he were to land the Today gig, "who's to say Seacrest can't do both jobs?" There's every reason to believe that the multi-hyphenate will "continue to maintain his heavy workload even after he is eventually elected president."
"TCA roundup: One way or another, you are stuck with Ryan Seacrest, America"