“We Can’t Believe She’s Gone, It’s Devastating”
A source exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly that Kelly Ripa “is talking about leaving” Live With Kelly & Michael after Michael Strahan announced his exit from the show for a permanent gig at Good Morning America. (Strahan was originally supposed to make the move in September, but the show announced this week that his last day on air will be May 13.)
Although Ripa, 45, returned to the show after a four-episode hiatus Tuesday, April 26, the source says she still feels “blindsided” that producers and Strahan, 44, broke the news to her just moments before the April 19 public announcement: “She considers it a sign of disrespect.” (In her opening monologue Tuesday, Ripa said that “apologies have been made.”)
Now, the 15-year Live vet will wait to see who producers seat beside her to help weigh her options for the future. They’re considering actor Jerry O’Connell, says the source, but Ripa “hopes Anderson Cooper or Andy Cohen gets the job.”
Unfortunately, it’s not likely that one of Ripa’s pals will come aboard due to their prior commitments (the CNN journalist is covering the election and theWatch What Happens Live host is under contract with Bravo), so the show may not go on for Ripa. Says the source, “Unless one of them can come on, she doesn’t really want to do it.”
Michael Strahan sent everyone’s jaw to the floor when he announced in April 2016 that he was leaving the daytime talk show Live! with Kelly and Michael for Good Morning America. News of his departure launched one of the biggest scandals daytime television had seen in years. How did it all go down? And what kind of mess did it create? We’ve got the scoop.
Live With Kelly Fans Can’t Believe Kelly is Gone
If anyone is to be blamed for the dramatic way Strahan’s exit played out, it’s probably ABC’s parent company, Disney. According to multiple reports from TMZ, Ripa was informed that Strahan was leaving Live! around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2016—just as Disney was about to make the announcement to the press. TMZ claims Disney CEO Bob Iger actually ordered Strahan not to say anything about his exit, and Iger reportedly didn’t even give Ripa a courtesy phone call about it. Strahan supposedly wanted to “do the right thing” by telling Ripa himself, according to a source for People. “It was important to him. He wanted to tell her in person and give her months notice,” the source said.
Heartbreak: Kelly Gone Too Soon, She’ll Be Missed
Almost immediately after Strahan’s exit went public, word got out that Ripa felt blindsided by Strahan and Disney over the way they delivered the news to her. TMZ said she felt particularly disrespected by Disney, which wouldn’t be surprising, given that she’s spent the last 15 years co-hosting Live!. Even worse, Ripa reportedly felt personally stabbed in the back by Strahan for not giving her a heads up.
TV Moments Last Forever: Kelly Will Be Missed
She chose not to show up to work the following day, leaving Strahan to address his exit alongside his last-minute replacement, Ana Gasteyer. Ripa reportedly maintained radio silence until the night of Friday, April 22, 2016, when she sent an email to staffers saying she’d return to work April 26, 2016 following her pre-scheduled vacation to celebrate her 20th anniversary. Suddenly, her return became appointment television.
Americas Shocking Response To Kelly’s Tragic Event
While all of the drama was unfolding backstage, multiple reports leaked to the press alleging Ripa and Strahan didn’t get along. According to TMZ, Ripa allegedly bullied Strahan and was jealous of all the attention he had received since joining Live! in 2012. As for Strahan, TMZ claimed he was “at war” with the show’s executive producer for the first year and “made things uncomfortable for everyone.” Sources also suggested Strahan was not “present enough” on Live! because of his part-time duties with GMA.
TMZ sources said Ripa “made it clear she’d be a happy camper” if Strahan left the show before his originally scheduled departure in September 2016. Both co-hosts were reportedly very uncomfortable sitting next to each other and putting on happy faces amid the drama.
Ripa finally came back
Ripa made a triumphant, if dramatic, comeback to Live! on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Upon entering the set, Ripa immediately began explaining her side of the story. “I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts [on the situation]. After 26 years with this company, I earned the right, ” she said at the start of the show. “What transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary, in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication, and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace.”
Our Prayers Are with Her. Sad Day for the “Live With Kelly”
According to TMZ, Ripa’s decision to return to Live! came only after a “tough talk” with Disney. Amid news of Strahan’s exit, reports circulated that Disney was actually considering adding a third hour to Good Morning America, which would have kicked Live! out of its longstanding 9 a.m. time slot. Ripa reportedly wanted assurance from Disney that none of that would happen. If her speech was any indication, she got it. “The best thing to come out of all of this…is that our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority,” she said. “There is a commitment to this show, and the people who work here and, most importantly, to you, the viewers who have watched us every day for 30 years.”
Strahan’s exit was bumped up
With Ripa firmly back in her chair, one thing quickly became clear: between her highly publicized absence and rumors of backstage feuding, there was no way Strahan was going to stay on Live! until September 2016. In fact, the only surprising thing was how quickly ABC confirmed the speculation. “After meeting with the producers of both Live! and Good Morning America, and after speaking with Kelly and Michael, we have decided on a plan that best advantages both shows for the future,” ABC said in a statement to People, mere hours after Ripa’s return episode aired. “To that end, Michael’s last day on Live! will be [May 13, 2016] which not only gives the show the chance to have a nice send-off for him during the May book, but to also immediately begin the on-air search for a new co-host.”
Although some might argue this decision meant that Ripa “got her way” with ABC, she still managed to make Strahan’s final weeks on the show awkward, to say the least. In one episode later that week, Ripa made a thorny joke about contract negotiations. The following day, she brought up Strahan’s highly publicized divorces, much to his uncomfortable surprise. Even so, she managed to pull it together to wish Strahan a fond farewell on his last day. “We are so, so proud of you,” she said. “We achieved so much together and I look forward to watching you every morning and seeing what else you achieve.”
A search for a new co-host began
Amid reports that Strahan’s presence at Live! had been wiped clean less than 24 hours after his departure, the show went straight to work to see if it could find a formidable replacement. Thus began a seemingly endless amount of speculation as to who might land the coveted gig. Reports ranged from the obvious (Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper, both of whom are close friends of Ripa’s) to the inspired (Rob Lowe, who’s guest-hosted before) to the downright bizarre (Fred Savage, anyone?) With so many names being floated around, many expected Live! to reach a decision by the time its new season premiered in September 2016. That didn’t happen. Ripa did, however, have a different announcement to make that week.
Could Live!’s next co-host be you?
As Nicki Swift reported, Ripa announced on the Sept. 7, 2016 episode of Live! that the show was extending its search for her new co-host to the viewers watching at home. Fans interested in entering the contest, named “Live with Kelly and You,” were instructed to submit a form on the show’s official website by Sept. 20, 2016. It was unclear at the time whether the show intended to permanently replace Strahan with, you know, one of us, but in today’s fame-obsessed society, that probably didn’t stop hoards of people from applying.
Ripa got a huge promotion
In April 2016, Ripa told her millions of viewers that Disney promised to make Live! a priority in the months ahead. According to Page Six, the company delivered on its word by promoting Ripa to executive producer of the show. To sweeten the deal, Page Six said “Disney boss Bob Iger personally stepped in to smooth things over with Ripa when she got the new title.” A source for People backed up the story, but downplayed its significance. “Honestly that happened a long time ago,” the source said. “Kelly just never announced it.”
Meanwhile, reports from earlier in the summer alleged Ripa had begun to rule Live! with an iron fist in order to prevent another Strahan fiasco. “From the bookings to the comedy bits…It all has to be approved or suggested by Kelly,” a source told Page Six. “They are now calling her ‘Queen Kelly’ [backstage]. It’s like her royal court.” A rep for the show dismissed the rumors, claiming, “The hosts of Live! always have had major input with regard to the production of the show. This report is completely false.”
Her staff got stuck with a ton of extra work
In the same report about Ripa’s promotion to executive producer, Page Six claimed the staff of Live! had to work extra hard over the summer to make up for Strahan’s absence. “The team had fewer days off this summer than they usually do,” a production source said. “Most shows are on hiatus in August and [the Live! team] ended up working. They did more shows in August than they normally would have.” The source added, “The whole staff has to do preparation differently because when you have a regular co-host, their own team does it, but when it’s different every day, it is more work.”
Confession Gone Wrong: Kelly Will Be Missed
People also acknowledge the extra workload, but claimed the whole thing turned out to be a positive experience. “While it’s true that Michael leaving made for a much more grueling summer for everyone because of the additional work required to prep a new cohost every day, the whole staff has actually bonded over it,” the source said. “The environment is really positive because of the work they’ve been doing.”
Strahan finally debuted on Good Morning America
After nearly half a year’s worth of scandal, Strahan finally debuted on Good Morning America on Sept. 6, 2016 to little fanfare. Deadline reported that his first episode was “happy and collegial” and lacked any of the drama from his exit from Live!. In fact, a lot of entertainment outlets paid more attention to the “big announcement” that Ripa teased on Live! that same day. The announcement, of course, turned out to be the relatively underwhelming “Live! with Kelly and You” contest, but, hey, part of her probably loved stealing Strahan’s thunder one last time.
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