- Last Updated: 1:23 AM, March 8, 2011
- Posted: 12:39 AM, March 8, 2011
NBC Universal's Bonnie Hammer has begun seeking out a new chief to run the frothy West Coast reality TV channel, E! Entertainment, sources tell The Post, and hopes to find one who is able to create a broader identity for the brand.
Hammer is said to have been interviewing candidates in recent weeks, drafting Michael Levine's ML Search to help. Levine declined to confirm he had been hired, while reps for NBCU declined to comment.
As chairman of NBCU Cable Entertainment, Hammer is spearheading the search for a successor to E!'s former boss, Ted Harbert, who was bumped up to chairman of NBC Broadcasting in January.
Hammer, whose expertise is primarily in drama, is reportedly seeking someone who can broaden the scope of the reality show-laden network. She slso oversees USA and Syfy, among many others.
While E! is successful -- its Oscar Red Carpet coverage garnered 3.5 million viewers -- the channel is highly reliant on Ryan Seacrest, producer of such shows as "E! Red Carpet," "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and "Kourtney and Kim Take New York."
Ryan Seacrest Productions also provides "E! News Live."
Comcast has a multi-network deal with the 36-year old producer and host, signed in August 2008.
Seacrest recently signed a three-year, $60 million deal with Clear Channel to continue his radio show and create a record label and concert series for the company. He also signed a $45 million deal to continue as host to Fox's "American Idol."
In addition, Seacrest is expected to take a big role on NBC's royal wedding coverage at the end of May, and Seacrest is reportedly in talks to provide Hollywood feeds to NBC stations' local news broadcasts.