×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kelly Ripa Says ‘Live’ Flap Was About ‘Respect in the Workplace’

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Kelly Ripa quipped Tuesday in her much-anticipated return to “Live With Kelly and Michael” after four days off amid her anger over the decision to shift co-host Michael Strahan to “Good Morning America” full-time.

The host addressed head-on the source of her ire at being told of the decision after last Tuesday’s show, just a few minutes before it was announced to the press. The drama that ensued, with Ripa sitting out the show for two days before a previously planned vacation on Friday and Monday, “started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace,” she told viewers.

After 26 years of working for ABC in various capacities, Ripa asserted that she’d “earned the right” to have been treated with greater consideration in the Strahan shuffling process. She sat out last Wednesday and Thursday’s episodes for good reason: “I didn’t want to come out here and say something I might regret.”

Ripa’s roughly five-minute address to viewers amounted to a humbling moment for ABC execs, who by all accounts handled the decision to transition Strahan to “GMA” badly by keeping the news from Ripa until the last minute.

ABC insiders have laid the blame for that tactic on ABC News President James Goldston, and what is described as a myopic focus on shoring up “GMA” as its viewership dips against NBC’s newly energized “Today,” and ABC Owned Television Stations President Rebecca Campbell and WABC-TV President Dave Davis, where “Live” is produced. Insiders say one big reason for the bungle was the blurred lines of responsibility for managing the Strahan transition — and informing those affected — because “Live” and “GMA” originate from different ABC divisions.

Ripa said the flare-up over Strahan’s move after four successful years as “Live” co-host spurred apologies to her from ABC top brass, although she did not name names. In another unusual example of a host lifting the veil on behind-the-camera maneuvers, Ripa told viewers that execs pledged to her that “Live,” which airs on ABC O&O stations and is syndicated by Disney/ABC in the rest of the country, is a valued asset for the Mouse.

That was a direct reference to the speculation that ABC was looking to take over “Live’s” 9 a.m. time slot with a third hour of “GMA.” Knowledgable ABC sources have long denied that any such move was afoot — for a host of logistical and practical reasons — but the rumors nonetheless persist.

“The best thing to come out of all of this — our parent company has assured me that ‘Live’ is a priority,” Ripa said.  “There is a commitment to this show and the people that work here and, most importantly, to you the viewers who have watched us every day for 30 years.”

The torrent of media coverage of the Strahan move and Ripa’s no-show protests on April 20-21 made for much anticipation for her return on Tuesday. Wearing a sleek, red Roland Mouret jumpsuit, Ripa walked out on the set holding hands with Strahan. She addressed the audience standing up beside the desk and noted the awkwardness of the situation as the audience — and undoubtedly ABC execs — awaited her first words.

“I’m fairly certain there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts (in the studio) in case I drift too far off message,” she joked. Ripa received a lengthy standing ovation from the audience. She thanked viewers for their “overwhelming” demonstrations of support “in this bizarre time.”

In closing, Ripa congratulated Strahan on his “tremendous opportunity” to move to “GMA,” where he has been a twice-weekly contributor for the past two years. “I couldn’t be prouder of you and everything we’ve accomplished together,” she said. Strahan gushed as he returned her compliment: “I’m so happy you’re back. You love this show, you love the fans, you love the staff. I love you. I’m so happy you’re here.”

Reflecting her earthy touch that has made her such a favorite with fans, Ripa added just before the conversation turned back to the usual breezy stuff of “Live”: “My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we’re all crazy.”

Now that the air has been cleared on-air, the focus of “Live” intrigue is on Ripa’s negotiations for a new contract as her current pact ends after the 2016-17 season. The events of the past week — bolstered by the comments she made in her return on Tuesday — amount to a windfall of leverage for Ripa’s reps at CAA.

More TV

  • Kevin BarnettFOX 'Rel' TV show panel,

    Comedian Kevin Barnett Dies in Mexico at 32

    Kevin Barnett, the comedian behind Fox comedy series “Rel,” has died while on vacation in Mexico of unknown causes. He was 32. Barnett’s New York City-based comedy career was just taking off at the time of his death, having recently executive produced and co-created Fox TV series “Rel” alongside comedians Lil Rel Howery and Josh [...]

  • Can't We Talk About Something More

    Roz Chast Memoir ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’ to Be Adapted Into TV Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast is taking her sardonic wit to a television screen near you. Her best-selling graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” is being adapted into a half-hour television series by Shivani Rawat’s ShivHans Pictures and Ken Kwapis’ In Cahoots, Variety has learned. Emmy-winning writer Sheila R. Lawrence (“The [...]

  • Jesse Redniss Variety Entertainment & Technology

    WarnerMedia Debuts Content Innovation Lab Fueled by AT&T Tech

    WarnerMedia is launching an incubator meant to “combine emerging technologies with content from across its operating units to create new and innovative consumer experiences and businesses,” the company announced Tuesday. Led by Jesse Redniss, Turner’s executive VP of data strategy and product innovation, the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab is looking to integrate its intellectual property and talent [...]

  • Ilha de Ferro - Dante (

    NATPE: 5 Takes on Brazil’s Globo and Its 2019 Lineup

    MIAMI  — In hallowed tradition, Brazilian TV giant Globo unveiled its NATPE line-up on the first day of the Miami trade fair. With scripted and non-scripted promos playing to a thundering soundtrack Jerry Bruckheimer would have been proud of, this was, as ever for Globo, a polished and powerful presentation. But it also said much [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings for Week of Dec.

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Dec. 31: 'Masked Singer' Premiere Grows by 40 Percent

    The series premiere of “The Masked Singer” continued to pay dividends to Fox in the delayed viewing numbers. In Live+7 for the week of Dec. 31, “The Masked Singer”–which already had the biggest Live+3 gain of any unscripted premiere ever–rose 40% from its Live+Same Day haul in adults 18-49 to a 4.2 rating. In total viewers, [...]

  • Paula Kaplan

    Viacom Digital Studios' Paula Kaplan Expands Role to Oversee Talent for Nickelodeon

    Paula Kaplan, the executive vice president of talent and development at Viacom Digital Studios, is expanding her role to new include overseeing talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan’s new title will be executive vice president of talent and development for Viacom Digital Studios and EVP of talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan will report to both Brian Robbins, president [...]

  • THE MAGICIANS -- Pictured: (l-r) Trevo

    'The Magicians' Renewed for Season 5 at Syfy, Adds New Co-Showrunner

    Syfy has renewed “The Magicians” for a fifth season just ahead of the fourth season premiere. The show has also promoted Henry Alonso Myers to co-showrunner for the fifth season. “‘The Magicians’ raised the bar at Syfy and has gained momentum season after season, attracting a new audience to the channel. We are proud of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content