Ripa was joined on ABC’s newly titled “Live With Kelly” today by late night host Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel was the obvious stand-in following former co-host Michael Strahan’s departure from the show last Friday (May 13), weeks ahead of the network’s plans to keep him on the show through the summer.
The controversy began last month when the network announced that Strahan, a former New York Giants standout, would move permanently to ABC’s morning flagship “Good Morning America.” Ripa was blindsided by the move.
She reacted the next day by refusing to appear on her own show. Although she was clearly slighted by industry suits, her behavior was still unprofessional and diva-like.
Since then behind-the-scenes staffers have let it be known that Ripa is exceedingly difficult to work with and a Class-A diva.
Ripa replaced Kathy Lee Gifford in 2000 and joined the high popular Regis Philbin. Their relationship quickly cooled and Philbin was forced out five years ago. He said last year he hadn’t spoken to Ripa since they parted ways.
Strahan joined the syndicated show a year later and it was renamed “Live with Kelly and Michael.” But Ripa made it clear from the get go that it was her show, according to sources.
Strahan reportedly bristled at the treatment he received. “It was death by a thousand slights,” our source said. “Their relationship quickly became toxic.”
Although they appeared jovial on air, the two barely spoke off camera.
Reports about their frosty relationship have been widely reported, and an industry insider says initial reaction to feelers sounding out potential permanent name co-hosts have been largely negative. the source refused to discuss names.
“Everyone is leery about working with her,” the source said. “They want some kind of assurance they are not walking into some kind of living hell.”
The irony of the situation was lost on Kimmel this morning and he chose to address the situation head-on.
“Where’s Michael?” he asked after taking his seat on the show. “Everything alright?”
“Gelman, will you ever talk to Michael Strahan again?… Will he be back on the show as a guest?” Kimmel asked executive producer Michael Gelman.
The point of the self-deprecating exercise quickly became clear. When you’re handed lemons, make lemonade.
Kimmel gave a “Wheel of New Co-Hosts” a spin to help Ripa choose a permanent replacement.
The wheel included Kylie Jenner, Jon Bon Jovi, the Bachelorette’s JoJo, ex-Yankee great Derek Jeter, Royal relative Pippa Middleton and two darkhorses: “Becky with the Good Hair” and “party-sized summer sausage.”
Ripa ended up with the sausage. Her next permanent co-host may be the celebrity equivalent.
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