Sparking speculation over her reasons, Kelly Ripa was unexpectedly absent from “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael” Wednesday, a day after co-host Michael Strahan announced he will be jumping ship to ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Without advance notice to viewers, actress and former “Saturday Night Live” star Ana Gasteyer filled in as guest co-host with Strahan, who told viewers of his plans to begin at “GMA” in September. The NFL Hall of Famer, 44, said on Tuesday that he was leaving the syndicated “LIVE!” to appear full time on “GMA,” where he has been a twice-weekly guest host since 2014.
A representative for “LIVE!” told People magazine without elaboration that Ripa, 45, “had the day off.” People added that on Tuesday night, Ripa reportedly told ABC that she was not reporting for work Tuesday and that producers do not know when she will return. Ripa’s spokeswoman did not respond to a Newsday request for comment. Neither Ripa nor Strahan have commented on social media.
According to multiple accounts, Strahan’s departure caught both Ripa and executive producer Michael Gelman by surprise. TMZ.com said Strahan had not informed the two until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, after that day’s episode had shot. The site said that per a directive from Robert Iger, head of ABC owner Disney, Strahan was prevented from telling them earlier.
On the show Wednesday, Strahan thanked the show’s crews and fans, and promised that, “I’m always available to guest co-host if I get a call because I consider myself to be a part of this family forever.” At episode’s end, Strahan thanked Ripa, saying she “welcomed me here and I’ve learned so much from her,” and that it had “truly changed my life to be here with her.” Calling her “an amazing influence on me,” he said, “I love you and everyone else here at ‘LIVE!’ ”
Strahan — a 15-year defensive end for the New York Giants who became a Fox Sports analyst after retirement — joined “LIVE!” in 2012 following a 10-month search for a replacement for departing longtime host Regis Philbin. Recently renewed through the 2019-20 season, “LIVE!” will begin seeking a new co-host this fall, ABC said.