American Idol

Is Ryan Seacrest preparing to leave 'Idol'?

May 2, 2011 at 3:47 PM ET

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Could Ryan Seacrest be leaving "American Idol" after next season?

Ryan Seacrest has been with "American Idol" since day one, but it sounds like he may be getting ready to leave TV's No. 1 show. Not only that, he could be gearing up to give it some competition.

According to The New York Post, the reality competition host is in talks with NBC to create a new singing show to go up against Fox's "Idol."

"It is a bit more fun. It's not contestant competitive. It's artist competitive," Paul Telegdy, NBC's head of alternative programming, told The Post.

(TODAY.com is a part of msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Seacrest has only one year left on his contract with CKX, the parent company of "Idol" producer 19 Entertainment. He last renewed his contract in July of 2009 for a reported $15 million per year to host the singing competition.

That's a ton of cash, but could the new show he's working on be a way for him to try to negotiate an even sweeter deal with CKX? It's no secret how much the folks at "Idol" depend on him.

"He is the unsung hero of 'American Idol,' " creator Simon Fuller told The Hollywood Reporter in April. "Ryan is the one person I would not want to lose."

Yes, "Idol" weathered the departure of caustic judge Simon Cowell by bringing on the wonderfully wacky Steven Tyler and pop star Jennifer Lopez. But if Seacrest leaves, could anyone step into his shoes?

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