Ryan Seacrest Sparked Concerns Ahead of 'Live With Kelly and Ryan' Exit

Ryan Seacrest's exit from Live with Kelly and Ryan was not unexpected. The 48-year-old star often appeared exhausted before leaving Live With Ryan and Kelly, leaving his colleagues and friends concerned, several sources told Page Six. In 2018, Seacrest began filming Live, for which he gets paid $10 million a year, American Idol, and On Air With Ryan Seacrest, his syndicated radio show. An industry insider revealed that Seacrest had missed an increasing number of Live shows in the past six months due to fatigue. Last week, ABC chiefs quietly signed a deal with Kelly Ripa's husband, Mark Consuelos, to take over as her co-host. According to sources, only a few people were aware of the Consuelos plan. Consuelos had filled in for Seacrest frequently, including last October when he co-hosted for a week. "Some of Ryan's absences created tension with everyone involved on the show," the insider told Page Six. "But everyone cares about him and respects him and just wants to make sure he's OK." In her 23 years on the show, Ripa, 52, his co-host and longtime friend, rarely misses a day of work. "They started talking about Ryan leaving last summer, and when they announced Ryan's departure, both Kelly and Ryan wanted to put whatever issues — arising from the workplace and Ryan's other responsibilities — they had behind them," the insider added. "They've known each other for 20 years, and, regardless of recent strains, it is a real friendship."

After Seacrest appeared to slur during the American Idol final in May 2020, ABC executives feared he had suffered a stroke. After Seacrest pulled out of filming Live less than 30 minutes before the show was scheduled to air, he cited "exhaustion" as the reason for his problems. A friend of Seacrest said he finds the schedule "punishing" and hates living in New York City. According to a source who knows Seacrest, he frequently travels between his homes in Los Angeles and NYC. "It's not just 'Live.' Ryan has to travel to audition cities for 'Idol' — they just went to Hawaii. It's exhausting. "It is hard doing 'Live' every day. It's a grueling schedule. There are double tapings and he runs between his radio show and 'Live.' He'll have a 10-minute break and they'll say, 'Come and do some one-liners for the radio show.'" One person cannot handle it all, said the source who knows Seacrest. "He's not quite burned out, but he knows himself [and knows] he needs a break. In the last couple of years, he's valued his time off with his family and his loved ones," said the source. "Look, he originally signed up for three years [on 'Live'] and then signed another three-year contract, so he really did enjoy doing the show." Seacrest is eager to work even more in the culinary space – he grows his own olive trees and makes olive oil to share with friends. "He's really interested in learning how to make wine, he has a passion for cooking, and this is the kind of thing he wants to invest in."

After recently selling his Beverly Hills compound for $51 million, Seacrest, who has an estimated fortune of $450 million, will return to the West Coast full-time. In addition to hosting ABC's Idol, which has paid him more than $10 million, he will also host "sing-along shows" and the New York Rocking Eve special. In addition to producing The Kardashians on Hulu, the streaming service owned by ABC parent company Disney, he recently launched a scripted drama called The Watchful Eye on Freeform, which Disney owns. The host also has a radio deal for up to 2025. During the Feb. 16 edition of Live, Seacrest and Ripa announced his departure. He will continue to appear on the show until it is officially rebranded as Live with Kelly and Mark. Leaving was both a "bittersweet" and a "tough, tough" decision, Seacrest explained on the show. "Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career," he added in a statement.  "There is nobody else like you," Ripa told him on Thursday's show. "There is nobody who can really do what you do. I know you in real life as well as in TV life. I say this about very few people: what you see is what you get. This is not an act, this is a good man. I am so endlessly impressed by you." Despite this, the industry insider said, "It was a collective decision that this was the time for Ryan to leave."