ENTERTAINMENT

‘This studio is your place’: Ryan Seacrest opens broadcast studio at Primary Children’s Hospital

Dec 5, 2023, 5:10 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2023, 5:50 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Ryan Seacrest came to Primary Children’s Hospital on Tuesday for the opening of Seacrest Studio, a new area in the hospital lobby designed for patients and caregivers to create programs and broadcast entertainment throughout the hospital.

“This studio is your place where, kids, you get to make all the decisions. No one can tell you what to do. You don’t have to do anything. So, let your family watch through the glass and have fun,” Seacrest said.

This is the 14th Seacrest Studio created by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, a charitable organization run by the American game show host who is set to start as the new host of “Wheel of Fortune” next year.

His sister, Meredith Seacrest Leach, said the footprint of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation at the hospital will continue to grow after Tuesday’s launch.

“What we love is that all these studios can connect. So, it’s becoming this network of children’s hospitals sharing content and experiences for patients,” she said.

Seacrest said in almost every hospital in which he has placed a studio, patients who previously fought coming in for treatment will now ask their parents when they are coming in because they’ll want to use the studio, play games and see who might stop by for an interview — like Seacrest, himself.

Ryan Seacrest and his sister, Meredith Seacrest Leach, executive director of the Seacrest Foundation, speak with reporters before the opening of the Seacrest Studio at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
Ryan Seacrest and his sister, Meredith Seacrest Leach, executive director of the Seacrest Foundation, speak with reporters before the opening of the Seacrest Studio at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. (Photo: Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)

Hospital staff can host game shows using the studio, and patients can participate from their rooms and even get prizes. Patients at Primary Children’s Hospital will also be able to showcase their own talents, performing music and talk shows.

Seacrest said Primary Children’s has been on their list of places in which to build a studio for a long time — they try to put studios at hospitals where patients get the best care and Primary Children’s has patients from many communities. He said the timing worked out, so they could have a “magical space.”

Special moments for children

Payson Inkley, a patient at Primary Children’s, talked about interacting with Seacrest at the studio the day before its official opening. He said Seacrest was “really friendly.”

Inkley had leukemia at age 7 and spent a lot of time at the hospital. He’s now 13 and told reporters on Tuesday he has “kicked leukemia in the butt.”

Inkley is excited to use the green screen at the hospital’s new studio.

“It was really hard when I was in the hospital … (the studio is) just another thing that will make those days a little less sad,” he said.

The teen said he wants to be an actor when he grows up and Seacrest encouraged him to follow his dreams.

Payson Inkley, a patient at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, poses on the red carpet before the opening of the hospital's new Seacrest Studio on Tuesday. Celebrity talk show host Ryan Seacrest and his sister, Meredith Seacrest Leach, executive director of the Seacrest Foundation that created the broadcast studio, were on hand for its grand opening Tuesday.
Payson Inkley, a patient at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, poses on the red carpet before the opening of the hospital’s new Seacrest Studio on Tuesday. Celebrity talk show host Ryan Seacrest and his sister, Meredith Seacrest Leach, executive director of the Seacrest Foundation that created the broadcast studio, were on hand for its grand opening Tuesday. (Photo: Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)

Katie Welkie, CEO at Primary Children’s Hospital, said they have been planning for this for years and it is an incredible opportunity to partner with an organization with such passion for children.

She is excited to watch the kids and see the difference the studio makes for them.

“Things like the Ryan Seacrest studio give kids an opportunity to … have special moments — to have a part of their healing be participating in things that really make them feel like normal kids and, actually, special kids,” she said.

Welkie said the studio will help kids make connections with each other and with children at other hospitals because they can collaborate with other Seacrest Studio locations.

“When you see a kid’s, you know, face light up because of something that they’ve done, or an interaction that they’ve had, there’s nothing like that,” she said.

Interaction with celebrities

Andy Grammar, a singer and songwriter, said creating places where kids having a hard time can find joy is important. He has been in the studio before and found one child there so good, he invited him onto the stage for his concert in Salt Lake City.

“He was incredible,” Grammar said, and he was planning to sing with him again on Tuesday.

“It’s so sweet to be around children,” he said.

Zachary Levi, an actor known for roles in “Shazam!” and “Tangled,” said he has been coming to Seacrest Studio locations for years and, each time, it is a special experience.

“I hope that by coming out here, kids see that they’re ‘sold out,’ like, we care about them. There are so many people here — not just us celebrities, but just people in general —who really care, including superheroes,” Levi said.

Zachary Levi, an actor, takes a selfie with an Intermountain Health employee Tuesday prior to the grand opening of the Secreast Foundation's newest Seacrest Studio, located inside Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Zachary Levi, an actor, takes a selfie with an Intermountain Health employee Tuesday prior to the grand opening of the Secreast Foundation’s newest Seacrest Studio, located inside Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)

He said it is a unique opportunity for children to get to play in “the sandbox of media,” and learn how to be a radio DJ, an actor or something else.

It was the first time at a Seacrest Studio for Miles Teller, known for his role in “Top Gun, and he found it very special to be a part of it and meet the children. He said the studio can inspire a lot of interest in the children and get them excited about something, which is needed during hard times.

As a child, he said he did a TV camp and this experience would blow that out of the water. He said arts can be a way to express yourself and can be therapeutic for children.

“It gives … kids an opportunity to let loose and have fun. That’s what it’s all about,” Teller said.

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‘This studio is your place’: Ryan Seacrest opens broadcast studio at Primary Children’s Hospital