Though Michael Strahan was scheduled to stay on Live With Kelly and Michael through the end of the summer, the show has now released a statement announcing his departure in just two weeks:
“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 cohost. This plan also allows GMA to start integrating Michael into the show more often this summer before his full-time start in September.”
“Guys, our long, national nightmare is over.”
That’s how Kelly Ripa started her emotional speech during her return to Live With Kelly and Michael on Tuesday, April 26. It was her first time back since co-host Michael Strahan announced on April 19 he is leaving for Good Morning America.
Walking out hand-in-hand with Michael to DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean,” the two seemed united — despite rumors of relationship trouble. After the enthusiastic audience was seated, she started in, being totally honest and vulnerable.
“I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to this show,” she began.
“The love, the show of support to this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. 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.”
She continued, “I didn’t want to come out here and just say something I might regret. What transpired, though, over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace.”
The 45-year-old then made a point to call the show her “second home,” referring to her producers and crew as “family.”
“Apologies have been made and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority. 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.”
Sounds like ABC has finally done right by the longtime daytime host! And clearly, she and her departing colleague have made up, as well.
“I am thrilled for Michael,” she gushed, before turning and addressing him directly. “I am thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity. I couldn’t be — and we couldn’t be — prouder of you and everything you have accomplished.”
Attempting to segue back into the show, she concluded with a laugh, “It’s supposed to be entertaining, so let’s get back to what we do best and start the show. My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we’re all crazy. And I think he’s right.”
For his part, the NFL Hall of Famer took a moment to laud his partner of four years.
“I’m so happy you’re back. One thing I know about you is you love this show, you love the fans, you love this staff, I love you, and I’m so happy you’re here. This show has been transforming for me, and I know this show lives on because you are the queen of morning television.”
He also made a point to drill that home again later, saying, “Truly, so happy you’re here. I can’t express it enough.”
“Thanks! I got nowhere else to be,” she said with an adorable shrug.