Well, this doesn’t look good – a day after ABC announced Michael Strahan will depart from “Live! With Kelly and Michael” to join “Good Morning America” full time, co-host Kelly Ripa was nowhere to be found.
Instead, Strahan showed up with substitute host Ana Gasteyer, formerly of the network’s “Suburgatory” and a guest star on “The Goldbergs.”
ABC confirmed Ripa will be gone through at least Monday. “Dancing With the Stars” co-host Erin Andrews joined Strahan as a guest-host on Thursday and also will film Friday’s show in advance, already scheduled to be pre-taped. “Pretty Little Liars” star Shay Mitchell is the guest-host with Strahan on Monday. Ripa is out of pocket Friday and Monday for a previously-scheduled vacation, a show spokesperson said.
There was almost no mention of her absence on Wednesday: “Kelly’s off today,” Strahan said briskly at the top of Wednesday’s show, as he introduced Gasteyer to the audience.
If those audience members had read TMZ on Tuesday night, they might have been a bit suspicious: The site reported that Ripa was “livid” at Walt Disney Co. executives (the show is distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television) for not giving her a heads-up about Strahan’s exit and that she felt “blindsided.” Plus, TMZ added, show staffers think this proves that Disney brass cares about the health of “Good Morning America,” which has been sliding in the ratings, more than “Live!”
None of this came up on “Live!” on Wednesday morning, of course, as Strahan and Gasteyer cheerfully discussed the news of his new job.
“It’s the same channel,” Strahan reiterated about ABC’s “GMA.” “I’m not going anywhere. I was reading some stuff, and it sounded like I died!”
“I’m always available to guest co-host if I get a call,” he told the crowd. “Because I consider myself to be part of this family forever.”
At the end of the program, Strahan gave a much more elaborate shout-out to Ripa, who has been on the show since 2001.
“I really want to thank, of course, Kelly Ripa,” he said as the studio audience broke out in applause. “Kelly welcomed me here, and I’ve learned so much from her, and she’s just been an amazing influence on me. This has truly changed my life to be here with her. And I know that the show will continue to be strong and great, because with Kelly and (executive producer) Michael Gelman and the staff here, because everybody here is so talented — and this show has not been around for over 30 years by mistake. That is a very hard thing to do in any business, and it’s because of all the people who work here extremely hard. Kelly, I thank you. I love you.”