Ryan Seacrest is a mainstay of E!’s red carpet coverage, but on Sunday night, he’ll be a polarizing presence. The TV host has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by his former stylist Suzie Hardy—claims which he has repeatedly denied—and E!’s investigation into his actions found him innocent of misconduct.
The network confirmed on Monday that he will still host its Oscars red carpet pre-show. But with Hardy’s allegations fresh on everyone’s minds, celebrities will likely act differently around Seacrest.
Some publicists are reportedly hoping to avoid potentially awkward live TV moments by steering their celebrity clients away from the host.
“Usually Ryan is the one you want … but there are so many outlets on that carpet, why risk it? There’s plenty of other places for clients to get the exposure,” an anonymous PR manager told Page Six.
“If it was a [client who had been involved in the #MeToo movement], I would never put them in that position. I don’t think any smart person would,” another PR source told the outlet.
If publicists do in fact steer celebrities involved in Time’s Up and #MeToo away from Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet, it would be a marked difference from the Golden Globes, where he spearheaded most of E!’s interviews with Time’s Up activists like Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Kerry Washington.
With Time’s Up supporters like Nicole Kidman, Lupita Nyong’o, Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie, Laura Dern, and more set to attend at the 2018 Oscars, Seacrest could be interviewing far fewer celebrities than usual.
Perhaps to get ahead of the backlash, the E! star will host the special from afar, throwing to his co-hosts on the red carpet without conducting interviews himself. After all, couldn’t you just see someone like Reese Witherspoon or Natalie Portman asking Seacrest about his own sexual misconduct allegations on the live show?
The E! star has yet to comment on the situation on-air and hosted Live with Kelly and Ryan on Tuesday without discussing sexual harassment. We’ll be keeping our eye on the Oscars red carpet to see if we can say the same about Sunday night.