Kelly Ripa is nearing 20 years on Live! — and she’s reflecting on some of the ups and downs.
In a new interview, the Live! with Kelly and Ryan co-host, 50, was asked about the Michael Strahan era, from 2012 to 2016, which ended abruptly when it was announced that he’d be jumping ship for a gig on another ABC show, Good Morning America. Ripa was memorably “blindsided,” finding out at the same time the press did, despite her name being in front of his in the title of the show. She took off a few days to process the cutting news before returning to the show and addressing Strahan’s departure candidly with the audience, explaining the necessity of “communication, consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace.”
Ripa — who was a co-host on the show with Regis Philbin for a decade before the former football star replaced the retiring Philbin — told Variety that she received praise from her female peers after her public demand for respect, saying, "I heard from all of them. I don't think there was an on-air woman that I didn't hear from: either a personal letter or an email or a text or DM. It's so easy to think that it's just you. But you'd be amazed how many people don't feel seen or heard at all.”
Of the blatant snub, Ripa continued, “I didn't kick up a fuss; it wasn't a big thing; I was just like, I'm not doing this. If I'm not worthy of a discussion, if I'm not worthy of you running this conversation by me — it was outrageous."
Strahan’s exit from the show was moved up so that the awkwardness between co-hosts didn’t have to play out longer than necessary — though it has in the press. They’ve both discussed it publicly through the years, with Strahan saying in January that he didn’t feel he was part of a team on Live!. He took issue with being a “sidekick” to Ripa. He also said he didn’t make a play for the GMA job, it was ABC execs who wanted to change shows. However, he admitted his departure "could have been handled better."
“I think there was a contract dispute,” Ripa recalled. “I don’t know what happened, but he announced he was leaving on air, and it was a shocking moment. But then he decided he would wait until the end of his contract, so he’d be there for a year.”
Ripa and Philbin infamously had frosty relations as well — with Philbin saying Ripa “resented” him for leaving the show. For Ripa’s part, she said their relationship played out on-screen only, as Philbin thought their chemistry was better if they didn’t speak when cameras weren’t rolling. Nonetheless, she shared a nice tribute to him after his death.
Ripa also revealed that Strahan’s tenure on the show could have been skipped over entirely if her current co-host, Ryan Seacrest, had his way. When Philbin retired, Seacrest — with whom she has a friendship — contacted her about the job.
“He reached out to me and said, ‘Do you think there’s any chance that if this goes down, we could work together?’” she recalled Seacrest asking.
Seacrest ultimately did, as Strahan’s replacement, in 2017. Though Ripa admits that ABC execs were a little nervous about it.
“What the show liked about Regis and me is that we didn’t really have a relationship,” Ripa said. “They liked two people coming together, having breakfast and letting it all unfold. The network and studio’s fear of Ryan and me is we are so close and we’ve been so close — it’d be like working with yourself!”
But it’s worked out — and in part because she sees Seacrest as a much more polished host to her own on-camera persona, which she describes as someone who willingly puts all her “imperfections out there.”
Seacrest is “so polished and I’m so not,” she said.
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