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Fox Says It Wants to Keep Ryan Seacrest on 'American Idol'

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(PASADENA, Calif.) -- Fox would rather not envision an American Idol without its longtime host, Ryan Seacrest.  The Hollywood Reporter published a story last week that suggested that Seacrest could leave the show after his contract with Idol expires after this year.

Speaking at a Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena, Calif., on Sunday, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said the network has every intention of retaining Seacrest.

He said, "It's very hard to imagine the show without Ryan....[I]t's a tough negotiation and one that will come to a conclusion I think pretty quickly."

Seacrest echoed those thoughts, but he also acknowledged that he's in the midst of negotiations with NBCUniversal, the parent company of E!, for which he is an anchor. He also produces the Kardashian shows for the network.  Seacrest declined to comment on the rumors that he may join NBC's Today show in some capacity, and also sidestepped a question regarding whether he'd entertain the thought of one day hosting the NBC singing competition The Voice.

Speaking of The Voice, Fox couldn't resist taking a few digs at the rival music show.

Idol judge Randy Jackson said, "The winner of The Voice, as I will remind you, was an artist that had a deal with Capitol Records for many years, a failed contract over there, so it was almost like, that show, it was almost like second-chance people. It wasn't like some new artist, you know what I mean?  It's a different thing out there to me."

In addition, Fox alternative entertainment chief Mike Darnell poked fun at the fact that The Voice will employ former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson as a mentor this season.

He said, "I think it's a compliment to Idol that we're creating, this show has created superstars.  And that other shows want to use those superstars on their shows.  We're not hiring a lot of people on The Voice to be on our show."

The new season of Idol begins next week.  Reilly said he expects Idol to suffer a slight drop in the ratings this year because it's been around for over a decade.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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