The TV personality has shared the 'Live' desk with Regis Philbin, Michael Strahan and Ryan Seacrest.
Ryan Seacrest out! The 48-year-old media personality bid farewell to Live With Kelly and Ryan on Friday, April 14 after nearly six years. Kelly Ripa's husband, Mark Consuelos, will take over as co-host beginning Monday, April, 17.
For more than two decades, Ripa's ensconced herself behind the desk at Live -- from auditioning for four months and ultimately becoming Regis Philbin's permanent co-host, to later joining forces with the likes of Michael Strahan and Seacrest.
Following Philbin's departure in November 2011, there was a revolving door of guest co-hosts -- from Jerry Seinfeld, Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Bublé to Seth Meyers, Mary J. Blige and Andy Cohen -- before producers landed on Strahan as Ripa's next permanent co-host. His stint lasted less than four years, as he left for Good Morning America.
Strahan's departure paved the way for another slate of guest co-hosts -- Jimmy Kimmel, Jussie Smollett, Anderson Cooper and even a Pennsylvania high school teacher -- before Ripa's close friend, Seacrest, got the permanent gig in 2017.
In the years that followed, there's been plenty of attention on her working relationship with Philbin, which Ripa opened up about in her recently published memoir, Live Wire. There was similar tension tied to Strahan, and while she didn't divulge any of it in her book, a source told ET in April 2016 that she was "blindsided" by Strahan's exit announcement. For his part, Strahan would later acknowledge to The New York Times Magazine in January 2020 that the announcement could have been handled better.
Seacrest's departure, however, elicited a much different tone. Ripa congratulated Seacrest on surviving six winters in New York City and vowed to "forever" be in his corner.
Ripa and Philbin
Ripa was among the many celebrities who guest co-hosted with Philbin following Kathie Lee Gifford's departure on July 28, 2000. Ripa auditioned for four months, beginning in November 2000, before officially landing the gig on Feb. 5, 2001.
She was Philbin's co-host until his departure on Nov. 18, 2011, after nearly 30 years behind the desk. Philbin died in 2020, and Ripa fought back tears while paying tribute to Philbin during the first Live show following his death.
"As people get older you always know that certain things are inevitable, but Regis was one of the people who we all believed would figure out a way around the inevitable. It was not in the cards, I suppose," she explained, getting teary-eyed. "It was announced that he will be buried at his beloved Notre Dame which I just know means the world to him. So many people, like you, Ryan, reached out to me and said, 'You're the first person I thought of,' but I have to tell you, the first person I thought of was Joy, and Johanna and Jay Jay, his daughters. I thought of the girls and then I thought of Kathie Lee [Gifford]. Those were, I always say, Regis' core four. The ladies."
"He had this incredible partnership with Kathie Lee and of course his wife and daughters, who are essentially my age," she added. "I'm one year older than them. We used to talk about what it was like to have a funny dad. My dad is funny, not Regis funny, but he's funny. Having a funny dad makes you funny. It just makes you funny. It makes you appreciate the ludicrous side of things. So I immediately thought of them and what it must feel like to somehow he couldn't find a way to live forever that we all assumed or thought he would, or should or somehow, God would give a special ticket for him. "
In an interview with ET, Ripa said she had "enormous respect, admiration and reverence for Regis," and she also explained why she addressed the "forced" relationship with her one-time co-host.
"I, like most of the viewing public, felt like I knew him, but to expect two people from such different generations to have some sort of weird, forced friendship when they never knew each other is a very strange thing to put on one person. It was only put on one person and that is how I describe it [in the book]," she said.
While discussing their relationship in the book, Ripa referred to it as a "very professional working relationship," a notion she didn't think would garner so much scrutiny.
"That used to be a celebrated thing, but in this weird, gonzo, tabloid, let's pit the man against the woman world we live in, somehow that was strange and I was vilified," she said. "That's why I address it in the book. We had a professional working relationship and that's what we had and that's OK, because we are from different generations, we had different friend groups and we had different professional backgrounds."
Following his death, Ripa opened up in an ABC News 20/20 special about Philbin's life, recalling what she learned from the legendary entertainer.
"What I think my biggest takeaway from the 11 years that I shared with him was that you have to be yourself," Ripa says. "You cannot be one person on camera and a different person once the light goes off or the audience is gone. You have to be who you are."
She added that "his love of people will be his legacy" as well as his talent of "being himself completely and making everybody else the star of the show."
Ripa and Strahan
Ripa didn't address her relationship with Strahan in her book, Live Wire, but a source previously told ET that Strahan's sudden 2016 exit "blindsided" her. After Strahan and ABC failed to give Ripa a heads up on his decision to leave the show, Ripa called out of work the next few days, and upon her return, talked about her need for "communication, consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace." She also explained to the audience that after 26 years with the network, she "earned the right" to take some time off to "gather [her] thoughts."
Ripa told People in May 2016 that she was "excited" for Strahan's new job, while contending that it's not easy to find a co-host that will have the "chemistry and camaraderie and trust" that she and Strahan shared.
"It doesn't fall out of the sky," she continued. "It takes a lot of work, and it takes a group discussion."
As for Strahan's move to GMA, Ripa told People she understood the move but wished there had been more consideration on other fronts.
"I get it. We're excited for Michael. He wanted that job, and it's great for him. I think it is a perfect match, I really do," she touted. "However, what nobody considered is there's a whole other group of people that it really impacts, because we have to now find another great person."
Following a few weeks of awkward banter between him and Ripa, Strahan's exit was moved up from September to May. Disney/ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood later admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that "mistakes" were made in terms of handling Strahan's departure.
Further underscoring their friction in wake of his exit, Strahan told Time magazine in January 2019 that he hadn't spoken to Ripa "in a long time."
"I learned through all that went down with that, you can't convince people to like you," he said.
One year later, Strahan opened up in a New York Times Magazine profile about his time as Ripa's co-host.
"In sports, you can put as many great players as you want on a team, but if one guy out there is worried about himself, it will not work," he said. "Then on television, I've had jobs where I got there and felt like: Wow, I didn't know I was supposed to be a sidekick. I thought I was coming here to be a partner."
When it was mentioned that he and Ripa didn't have the best relationship near the tail end of his time at Live, Strahan said he "remained the same person I was from Day 1" and that what he would not do is "alter my attitude for somebody else's."
"When it was time to go, it was time to go," he added. "Certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up."
Ripa and Seacrest
Seacrest had been one of the many celebs to guest co-host with Ripa. The network announced in May 2017 that he would succeed Strahan as Ripa's next permanent co-host, and he made his debut on Sept. 5, 2017. But if it had been up to Seacrest, he would have joined Ripa long before 2017.
According to Variety, Seacrest inquired about being the next co-host when Philbin announced his exit in 2011.
"He reached out to me and said, 'Do you think there's any chance that if this goes down, we could work together?'" Ripa recalled in an October 2020 interview with Variety, which reported that the pairing suggestion "was met with some trepidation by executives."
"What the show liked about Regis and me," Ripa explained, "is that we didn't really have a relationship. 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!"
ET spoke with Ripa and Seacrest on their five-year anniversary as co-hosts, and their witty banter was fully on display when asked what they wanted to see for themselves and the show over the next five years.
Seacrest joked he wanted two inches of height, prompting Ripa to chime in, saying, "Our wants are not really show-related."
Back in September, years after Seacrest became the co-host, Ripa was on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, where viewers asked who she would have picked as co-host if Seacrest hadn't landed the gig.
"It's so much a deeper discussion, and it has so little, actually, to do with me," Ripa said of the selection process, which took a year before Seacrest was chosen.
She also mentioned her husband, Consuelos.
"My MC, I love, but he had a job too," she said on WWHL." At the time, he was working in California and then in Vancouver."
After it was announced Consuelos would replace Seacrest as the next permanent co-host, Ripa took to Instagram and quipped about the next phase in their relationship, writing, "And @instasuelos welcome home, or to the contractual obligation phase of our relationship."
Seacrest signs off from Live
Seacrest completed his final Live With Kelly and Ryan broadcast on Friday, April 14. It was an emotional day for Ripa and Seacrest, both of whom were holding back tears on their final day as co-hosts.
"Kelly just turned the corner and said, 'Am I gonna cry?' And I said, 'Maybe, because I am,'" Seacrest began, wiping his eyes.
"This is a disaster. We promised ourselves backstage we would not do this," she chimed in. "This is a great day of celebration. We have too many great moments on this show."
The final show included highlights from Seacrest's time on the show as well as a video tribute from his 4-year-old niece, Flora.
"Over the last six years, you've given us a lot more than just laughs. You've introduced us to young Ryan, you've shared your whole family with us," Ripa said, noting that Seacrest's family was with them in the audience. "Together, we've enjoyed the good times and we've supported each other through the bad times. I've grown accustomed to seeing your face every morning."
Ripa also said, "This has been without question the best six years of my life, and although we have been friends for decades, I feel like I've gained through this process a younger brother slash oldest son -- that's how I feel about you. It's the weirdest thing."
Seacrest also praised Ripa for the time they spent together.
"You're incomparable, Kelly. There's no one like you," he said. "I'm fortunate to have this job where I get to talk and laugh and screw things up."
ET on the set for Seacrest's last day
Ripa shared exclusively with ET what she told Seacrest right before walking out to tape their final show together.
"I looked at him and I said, 'This really sucks' and so inelegant," Ripa told ET. "It's not an articulate thing to say, but that fit in that moment. I was like, 'Oh, this is our last walk out.'"
Seacrest said he had no idea what he was walking into on his final day at work.
"I didn't know what it was going to feel like," he admitted. "I thought, 'Well, you can handle this' and then they roll the clips and pop balloons, but the sad music and the editing of those pieces together, it makes you realize how many great moments we have had."
Ripa also shared with ET why she was glad Seacrest joined her as her co-host for almost six years.
"It's the one thing I have to say that I am so happy about because I've always known -- and we've always known here -- who Ryan is, at his core, but all of his jobs are about featuring other people," Ripa said of the American Idol host. "And I'm so glad that we got to feature Ryan because he is, I always say, one in a zillion. He is the most special person, talented, kind, conscientious."
Consuelos will be the new co-host beginning Monday, April 17.
Ripa and Consuelos
ET spoke with Consuelos at Vanity Fair's 2023 Oscars party where he opened up about taking over the job.
"I'm really excited," he told ET. "It's an honor. It's such an iconic show. That seat next to my wife is such a cherished seat. I consider her the best in the business, so I'm really excited."
After more than 25 years of marriage, the couple will be working together again -- just like how they met as young actors on All My Children.
"Let's go back to work," Consuelos said. "That's how we started, so it's like coming full circle."
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