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It's official: Ryan Seacrest to return as host of 'American Idol'

The hardest-working man in Hollywood is returning to his roots. ABC announced Thursday morning that Ryan Seacrest will indeed return as host of the rebooted "American Idol."

“We are thrilled to be ushering in this new era of ‘American Idol’ with Ryan at the helm,” Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement released by the network. “So much of ‘American Idol’s’ overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan, whose larger-than-life personality and laudable dedication to creating quality entertainment has made him a true master of his craft.”

The original iteration of “American Idol” debuted in 2002 on Fox, with Seacrest serving as co-host with Brian Dunkleman, now best known for being the answer to the trivia question, “Who was Ryan Seacrest’s first-season ‘American Idol’ co-host?” The show ran for 15 seasons and 555 episodes before being canceled in 2016.

ABC's announcement that it’s rebooting the series in 2018 — with Katy Perry on the judges’ panel — came just 13 months after the “American Idol” series finale aired.

“It’s genuinely hard to put into words what ‘American Idol’ means to me,” Seacrest said in the same ABC statement. “I’m so grateful for the show and all the career and life opportunities it’s allowed me to experience. It’s been an incredible journey from day one.

“To be asked to return this year, at my new home at Disney|ABC, is an honor, if not a bit surreal,” he added. 

Despite picking up his new (old) “American Idol” gig, Seacrest will continue as co-host and executive producer of “Live With Kelly and Ryan” alongside Kelly Ripa, as well as host and executive producer of “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” his L.A.-based radio show. 

Seacrest also will maintain his role as executive producer and host of ABC’s annual New Year’s Eve bash, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”

Ripa excitedly confirmed the news on Thursday’s episode of “Live With Kelly and Ryan.”

Open auditions for the first season of the new "American Idol" begin Aug. 17 in Orlando, Fla. and Portland, Ore. Expect more announcements of the "American Idol" judges' panel in coming weeks.

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