Despite reports of his alleged sexual misconduct making headlines, Ryan Seacrest opted to move forward with his scheduled gig as red carpet Oscars correspondent for E! on Sunday. While many people expressed their disapproval on Twitter, Seacrest wasn’t completely without support. In addition to his E! colleague Giuliana Rancic, several other celebrities stopped to say hi to the beleaguered star.
And at least one of them was super pumped to see Seacrest: his Live With Kelly and Ryan co-host, Kelly Ripa. Some may even say her over-enthusiastic interview with Seacrest was a little too extra.
Joined by her husband, Mark Consuelos, Ripa stopped to chat with Seacrest on the red carpet. Echoing the sentiments she shared last week on their daytime talk show, Ripa gave her co-host/friend a proverbial pat on the back, saying, “Mark came in town for 12 hours and this is how we’re spending it. You look amazing. We were watching you upstairs in the hotel. You’re doing a great job.”
Other stars who took the time to visit with Seacrest on the red carpet included Whoopi Goldberg, Sofia Carson, Allison Janney, Betty Gabriel, Rita Moreno, Diane Warren and Tiffany Haddish, who told Seacrest she was proud of him and that she’d been following his success since she was young.
However, not everyone was so quick to dismiss the allegations made against Seacrest by former E! stylist Suzie Hardy. In an interview published in Variety, Hardy claimed that Seacrest sexually harassed and accosted her numerous times during her six-year employment with the network.
After launching an internal investigation, E! concluded there was “insufficient evidence to support the claims.” But we all know that being cleared by your employer doesn’t always mean you’re actually innocent, and it certainly doesn’t mean the public will move on.
To that end, Twitter was quick to express their reproach and to point out that veteran correspondent Seacrest didn’t interview nearly as many stars at this year’s awards ceremony.
— Melanie McFarland (@McTelevision) March 4, 2018
Me @ anyone who does a friendly interview with Ryan Seacrest tonight pic.twitter.com/JFxBybiBcg
— Kate Halliwell (@Kate__Halliwell) March 4, 2018
E! just referred to Casey Affleck pulling out of his presenting duties amid sexual harassment allegations (“an awkward situation”), and then cut to Ryan Seacrest a few moments later. This is weird.
— Lauren Kelley (@lauren_kelley) March 4, 2018
No one is talking to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet.
— Dina LaPolt (@dinalapolt) March 5, 2018
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) March 4, 2018
Many of the Oscars’ biggest names and nominees noticeably skipped interviewing with Seacrest. The entire Best Actress category — Margot Robbie, Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan — chose to forego speaking to the E! host.
Could it have been because stars were shunning him, as Page Six reported prior to the evening? Or was this a calculated move by E! Network to circumvent problems? Their coverage reportedly included a 30-second delay, which could have been put in place to avoid airing any drama involving Seacrest.
Such a dramatic moment may have slipped by producers in the form of Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson. At the show to announce a performance by her dear friend Mary K. Blige, Henson appeared to make a pointed — albeit cloaked — dig at Seacrest.
Taraji P. Henson is going to fight Ryan Seacrest with her fists before the night is over pic.twitter.com/BmWnm8D3Ns
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) March 5, 2018
Discussing all of Blige’s success, Henson looked Seacrest directly in the eyes and said with a smirk, “You know what, the universe has a way of taking care of the good people.” Henson then lightly lifted Seacrest’s chin and said to him, “You know what I mean?”
Granted, the interview ended with a hug, so it’s possible Henson was just talking about Blige’s success. However, fueling speculation is a tweet by Vulture journalist Mark Harris stating that immediately after her interview with Seacrest, Henson told the next correspondent, “I’m great now that I’m in your company.”
Seacrest’s scrutiny is the latest in a string of high-profile hiccups for E!, which has come under fire in recent months for its perceived lack of gender parity. Former host Catt Sadler left the network after discovering her male co-host, Jason Kennedy, was getting paid almost twice her salary. Last week, producer Aileen Gram-Moreno alleged to The New York Times that she was fired for allowing a clip of Eva Longoria defending Sadler at the Golden Globes in January to air.
As of press time, E! has not yet responded to backlash about Seacrest’s appearance at the Oscars. Likewise, Henson hasn’t commented on her exchange with the E! host, but Twitter is waiting with bated breath to learn whether that was, in fact, a dig.
Or, according to our favorite theory, a hex.