February 16, 2004 12:00 PM

Syndicated (check local listings)

TALK

“This show is all about the fans,” Ryan Seacrest said near the end of the first week of the American Idol host’s live daytime venture. Yes, Ryan, we hear them screaming. Not since Arsenio Hall’s “dog pound” have studio audiences made their enthusiasm so ear-split-tingly evident. More fans gather on the street outside, adding to the happy din.

Why does the crowd go wild? The new talk show plugs Seacrest’s prime-time hit relentlessly, and it’s fair to assume that audience members—many of them waving signs—are encouraged to create an Idol-type atmosphere. But maybe they’re thrilled just to get free stuff. CDs from Missy Elliott, 24 caps from Kiefer Sutherland, talking key chains from Mr. T—all were accepted with high-decibel gratitude.

Seacrest’s interviewing style is as soft as you’d expect, but he shows some appealing self-deprecation. What On-Air doesn’t need are Rosanna Tavares’s celebrity-news segments, which make Entertainment Tonight look like 60 Minutes.

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