Kelly Ripa made her big return to Live! With Kelly and Michael Tuesday (April 26). If you forgot, she played hooky last Wednesday (April 20) and went on vacation Thursday through Monday after abruptly finding out her co-host Michael Strahan is leaving for a gig at Good Morning America. (Ripa was reportedly "livid" she didn't get a heads up and essentially found out at the same time the public did.)
But Ripa didn't seem livid during today's broadcast. She appeared good-natured--at times downright emotional--and faced the controversy head on. Here is what she told viewers on air:
"I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company I earned the right. And let's be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other. In that time I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart so I didn't want to come out here and say something I regret. So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary. In a sense that it started a greater conversation about communication, consideration and, most importantly, respect in workplace. And since we're being honest, I don't consider this just a workplace, this is my second home. This is a place that I devoted myself to, not just because of you our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team and we are devoted to one another. We are family. Apologies have been made, and the best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority...I am thrilled for Michael."
The audience gave her a standing ovation, and Ripa joined Strahan at the desk, where they seemed totally cool with each other. "I'm so happy you're back," Strahan said. "And one thing I know about you is, you love this show. You love the fans. You love this staff. I love you."
Everything is back to normal, right? Wrong. We thought we could breathe, but just hours after all of this went down, Live! announced Strahan is actually leaving the show May 13--not September, as previously reported. Check out this statement a show spokesperson gave E! News:
"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. To that end, Michael's last day on Live will be on Friday, May 13, 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. This plan also allows GMA to start integrating Michael into the show more often this summer before his full-time start in September."
The logic makes sense, but we can't help but wonder if this is the only reason Strahan is leaving Live! prematurely. Ripa put on a brave face on air, but is it possible she's still upset and that's why Strahan is bowing out early? We'll probably never know for sure, and that kills us.
It looks like we'll be getting a new Live! co-host earlier than planned. Our vote is Beyoncé.