Michael Strahan was announced Tuesday morning as Kelly Ripa’s new co-host – and the response was a collective “duh.” His permanent appointment to the chair just right of Kelly was made official this morning after months of speculation — and weeks of simply waiting to hear his name called.
Within minutes of Strahan’s grand entrance, from an SUV parked outside the studio, it became an entirely different show – quite literally. As Ripa and Strahan embraced amid a confetti shower, the show’s logo was changed to Live! with Kelly and Michael.
More than two weeks ago, word emerged from the Live! set that the former New York Giants star had been tapped for the job. Trade journal Broadcasting & Cable first broke the news August 21, citing “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.” TMZ reportedly saw Strahan’s representative in the environs of ABC’s studio in mid-August.
But nothing was made official until Tuesday morning’s show, scheduled by ABC to build the fanfare. “It’s been nine months and I’m about to give birth to my new co-host,” Ripa noted snarkily as she prepared to introduce the 40-year-old Strahan. Upon his entrance, the 6-foot, 5-in. 2007 Super Bowl champion embraced his 5-foot-3-in costar. “I adore you,” he said. After the big unveil, the show carried on as usual, welcoming Claire Danes as the first guest.
Strahan will now occupy a chair left vacant since November, when Regis Philbin departed the show after 28 years. He and Kelly had hosted together since her appointment in 2001. In 2011, Regis was planning to leave, and a contract dispute with ABC made the decision clearer. But there was no permanent replacement lined up.
As ABC cast about for a steady replacement the co-host’s chair became a revolving door for stars of all calibers, from Anderson Cooper to Seth Meyers to Ripa’s own husband, Mark Consuelos. The network would test out 59 co-hosts over the course of 200 shows.
(PHOTOS: Regis Philbin: A Career on Camera)
Strahan wasn’t always the odds-on favorite — in July it was rumored that Ripa was close to picking Meyers — but he was always one of the most likely. He has hosted the morning television program 20 times over the past two years, and according to some measurements had been the go-to sidekick since Regis’s departure. In June and July, he co-hosted for several days at a time. Compared to other candidates with high-profile show commitments, Strahan’s schedule was much easier to work with. But his appointment leaves questions as to his where his full-time home will be. Strahan currently hosts Fox NFL Sunday, a weekly football show that tapes in Los Angeles. Live! is broadcast from New York each weekday at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
Ripa, 41, has comfortably held down the fort for nine turbulent months. Her bubbly personality has fit well with pretty much every co-host — “except that one…” she joked Tuesday — but she will no doubt relish the stability of a permanent sidekick. ‘‘It’s so nice to have a co-host literally sweep you off your feet,’’ she said as they settled behind the anchor desk.