Ryan Seacrest: 'American Idol's' Big Problem?

Jimmy Kimmel has mocked Seacrest's wacky behavior on his late-night ABC show, and an Orlando Sentinel recap said Seacrest "was making Paula Abdul seem like a bright shining light of intelligence."

Mary Jo Santilli, the blogger behind the popular "Idol" fan site, MJ's Big Blog, said she sees a change in Seacrest that goes beyond his bizarre behavior last week.

"It's been going on for a while now... he's becoming more aggressive and weird," she told ABCNews.com. "He's aggressive with Simon and he's badgering the contestants, really pressing them to reveal personal details. Last week was really the pinnacle of his odd behavior."

Santilli described what she called Seacrest's pressing of season-nine's Didi Benami, who broke down after singing what turned out to be her swan song, "What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted," in honor of a friend who died. And she said Seacrest's touting of his intervention with Bowersox could put her frontrunner status in jeopardy.

"It made her look sort of shaky," Santilli said. "On "Idol," you have to look grateful -- always -- or the viewers will turn against you."

While Seacrest's recent antics have certainly sparked debate among the "Idol" faithful, insiders point out that Seacrest, like Bowersox, may be buckling under the pressure of being the hardest-working man in Hollywood. "Idol" is a night gig for Seacrest, who also hosts a morning radio show, helms the E! News operation and manages his own production company.

Entertainment Weekly staff writer Adam Vary attended last week's performance show, and while he acknowledged Seacrest's behavior was out of character for the usual "consummate professional," he said Seacrest copped to sleep deprivation in a pre-show chat with contestant Katie Stevens, who was voted out last week.

"Katie said she asked him what was up and he said he was incredibly tired and was trying to fool himself into believing he was awake," Vary told ABCNews.com. "He was running on no sleep and lots of caffeine."

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week, Seacrest responded to the critcism of his behavior by saying he is always "unscripted" and acknowledging that some of his wacky behavior may be a function of his grueling schedule.

"Often, I will playfully do things to amp up the energy for the live show, because it's at the end of my long day," Seacrest said.

Seacrest, who is also an "Idol" producer, may also be trying to spice up what is widely considered to be a lackluster season with a dearth of Adam Lambert-like star singers.

"A lot of people say this season is a snoozefest and there's not a lot of reasons to tune in. Ryan's behavior makes the show a little more unexpected and fun," Vary said. "He has an ability to just go for it on live television and create those little 'moments.'"

And making those magic television moments may include pumping the wide-eyed "Idol" contestants for juicy personal tidbits.

"Those details are what keeps viewers invested and attached, so if he has to push a little bit, I sympathize with that. It's his job" Us Weekly staff writer Eric Andersson told ABCNews.com. "I'd chalk it up to him trying to mix things up and create a little fun."

E! declined ABC News' request for comment for this story, with a rep saying, "Since Ryan is E!'s biggest personalities (sic) I would never participate in this story. Apologies."

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