Ryan Seacrest Reunites With Kelly Clarkson, Says He Was Originally Considered to Judge ‘American Idol’

Ryan Seacrest has been the host of American Idol since its inception in 2002 — for a total of 21 seasons, and counting! — but there a time when he was actually considered to be a judge alongside Simon Cowell.

During an appearance on her eponymous talk show, Kelly Clarkson brought up a fun fact about Seacrest and the singing competition show, telling the 48-year-old TV host that she found out he was originally almost going to be a judge. Seacrest confirmed the nugget and then explained how he became the host.

“Yeah, originally when the producers — Nigel [Lythgoe] and Ken [Warwick] — were setting up the show, they had heard me on the radio here in Los Angeles and they thought that I might fit the panel to be up there with whoever else was already on. I guess Simon [Cowell] was already on board and I don’t know who else at that point,” Seacrest explained. “And I was like, ‘Well, wait a minute. I would love to audition to be the host.’ And so I auditioned eventually to be the host. And I got the job. So I’m happy to still have the job.”

Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Cowell were ultimately chosen as the initial first three judges, but the thought of Seacrest as a judge blew Clarkson’s mind. And while she wondered what that scenario would have looked like, it was Seacrest who couldn’t envision it.

“See, the problem is I’m like in auto-host mode all the time,” he said. “So I don’t know that I’d be able to sit behind the desk and just give feedback. I’d want to do that, then toss to commercial. ‘Welcome back. How are you?’ You know, and that would be too much.”

And Seacrest wasn’t kidding about being in auto-host all the time. He joked what that would look like on a date by lowering his voice and belting out his “host” voice and ordering food before telling an imaginary waiter, “And we’ll be right back after we use the bathroom.”

Seacrest, who has been dating Aubrey Paige since 2021, exited Live With Kelly and Ryan last month after almost six years as co-host.

He bid a tearful farewell on his last day when the final broadcast aired April 14. On his last day, Kelly Ripa revealed to ET what she said to Seacrest right before they stepped out to film his last show.

“I looked at him and I said, ‘This really sucks’ and so inelegant,” Ripa told ET. “It’s not an articulate thing to say, but that fit in that moment. I was like, ‘Oh, this is our last walk out.'”

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