Michael Strahan sent everyone’s jaw to the floor when he announced he was leaving the daytime talk show Live! with Kelly and Michael for Good Morning America. After four years of co-hosting with Kelly Ripa, Strahan’s last day was scheduled for May 13, 2016. What exactly led to his exit? And what kind of mess has it already created?
Michael ‘blindsided’ Kelly with the news
Talk about an awkward exit. Just hours after Strahan’s departure from Live! with Kelly and Michael was announced on April 19, 2016, word got out about the allegedly brutal way in which Strahan broke the news to co-host Ripa.
According to TMZ, Strahan “blindsided” Ripa with the news by holding a meeting with her and executive producer Michael Gelman at the exact same time that Disney (ABC’s owner) made the announcement about his departure. Ripa and Gelman were reportedly “stunned and upset” by the announcement, since no one on the show was given advance warning.
Incidentally, reports from both TMZ and Page Six seem to indicate that Strahan’s top-secret exit was orchestrated less by Strahan and more by Disney. “The plan was for there to be more time between telling Kelly and the announcement. But the story leaked, the timeline got crunched,” sources told Page Six. Still, we’d be pretty ticked if we were Ripa, too.
Kelly didn’t show up the next day
If you needed proof that TMZ’s reports about Kelly Ripa being “livid” and “ballistic” about Michael Strahan’s exit were true, try this on for size: she didn’t show up for the taping of Live! with Kelly and Michael the day after the announcement. In her place was former Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer, who co-hosted alongside Strahan.
Despite Ripa’s absence, Strahan took the time to confirm on TV that, yep, he’s totally leaving. “It is the same channel,” Strahan told the audience, according to the New York Daily News. “I’m not going anywhere. I was reading some stuff and it sounded like I died.”
During his announcement, Strahan also took a moment to personally thank Ripa for all that she’s done for him and the show. “I’ve learned so much from her. She’s been an amazing influence on me…Kelly, I thank you, I love you,” he said.
Ripa returned to work the following week. On her first day back, she entering the set side-by-side with Strahan, and then as he took a seat, she remained standing to deliver a candid, heartfelt speech about “respect in the workplace.”
Disney has done this to Kelly before
Ripa is probably experiencing a little deja vu right about now. According to TMZ, Regis Philbin pulled a similar move on his former co-host when he announced his exit from Live! with Regis and Kelly in 2011. TMZ reports that Philbin actually told Ripa he was leaving 15 minutes before they went on the air.
Initially, sources claimed that Ripa was “stunned” by the announcement but was not actually upset. However, a subsequent report claimed that Ripa was indeed furious, because she felt it “showed a total lack of respect for her.”
There’s apparently no plan to replace Michael Strahan
Among the weirdest twists in this dramatic saga came from TMZ, which reported shortly after the news broke that Disney had “absolutely no plan” to replace Strahan. That seemed especially strange, considering the lengthy and high-profile searches Live! conducted to replace Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford after their departures from the show.
Meanwhile, sources for Page Six are claiming a search for Strahan’s replacement will begin “in the fall with the start of the new season.” Among the rumored front-runners include two of Ripa’s close friends: Anderson Cooper, who has co-hosted Live! numerous times and whose contract with CNN reportedly ends after the election; and Bravo’s Andy Cohen.
Strahan’s exit was probably inevitable
Although Strahan’s big news came as a shocker, one might argue that it was also inevitable. The former football superstar has been putting in two days a week over at Good Morning America ever since he was named a special correspondent for the show back in 2014.
That alone would seem to indicate that Strahan hoped to extend his brand beyond Live!, especially when you take into account the commentating he’s been doing for Fox NFL Sunday. In some ways, we’re surprised he didn’t leave sooner.
Joining Good Morning America could backfire for Michael
If Disney is hoping that Strahan will boost Good Morning America’s ratings, they should probably keep in mind the disastrous fallout that occurred on GMA’s biggest rival, Today, four years ago. In 2012, Today suffered a massive hit in the ratings following Ann Curry’s tearful and awkward on-air exit, which was rumored to have been partially orchestrated by co-anchor Matt Lauer, according to New York magazine.
If the rumors about Ripa’s anger towards Strahan are indeed true, Disney should do everything in their power to help the two famous co-hosts make amends before Strahan’s final show on Live! Otherwise, Strahan may wind up playing the same villainous role that Lauer did in the first few years after Curry left Today, which would probably affect Good Morning America’s ratings in a negative way.
via Andy Scott, Looper.com | photo cherryocean.com
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