Michael Strahan will have to get through tomorrow and Friday’s Live! with Kelly and Michael as gracefully as he can, as reports rage about co-host Kelly Ripa being angry over handling of news he’s leaving to join Good Morning America full time.
A show spokesperson confirmed that Ripa will be out on Friday and Monday for a previously scheduled vacation. Seizing an opportunity, ABC said today that its Dancing With the Stars co-host Erin Andrews will guest-host tomorrow’s show with Strahan. She also will do Friday’s broadcast, which already was scheduled to pre-tape on Thursday. On Monday’s show, Strahan will be joined by Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell; her show airs on Freeform — which, like ABC, is owned by Disney.
Ripa was trending on Twitter today after she was a no-show for this morning’s show. Sources say she’s miffed at the company’s handling of news that her co-host Strahan was joining Good Morning America full time. Her absence fueled reports that Ripa got blindsided by yesterday’s announcement Strahan would join the morning news program full time in September. And there was more media eyebrow-raising when Ripa’s absence this morning was followed by no statement from Ripa wishing him well.
One industry source suggested Ripa’s reaction may tell you all you need to know about why execs may have made the decision to let her know about the move later rather than sooner. She was informed of Strahan’s departure after they’d finished Tuesday’s Live broadcast; media reports began to follow within 30 minutes.
Ana Gasteyer filled in for Ripa on the program this morning, awkwardly, though through no fault of her own.
Meanwhile, sources say that while Strahan has great chemistry with the GMA team, some members are not wild about Strahan being positioned as the guy who’s being brought in to turn the place around. ABC News chief James Goldston, in making the announcement, called Strahan “a great modern thinker and leader” and spoke of his “incredible ability to connect with people, from veterans and all kinds of newsmakers to a host of modern American cultural icons.”
It was a move ABC execs wanted to make for some time. “The invitation was always out there,” said one person with knowledge of the situation.
Once Strahan said to deal him in, things moved very quickly and little time elapsed between when he agreed and this week’s announcement.
Bringing Strahan on board GMA full time is a no brainer, given his track record appearing twice weekly on the show, and the importance to the company of bolstering the lucrative morning program. Meanwhile, moving Strahan off Live is considered relatively low risk, given that Ripa previously carried the program for a year before Strahan was named her co host. Exec producer Michael Gelman is “good at this,” one insider noted, having executed several show co-host on-air searches in the past. “The co-host search is fun to watch,” said the source. “They get a ton of big names to try out. And, ratings went up last time she looked for her new on-air partner.
Even so, sources say Ripa was less than thrilled when ABC announced two years ago that Strahan would appear on GMA two days a week. Making that announcement back then, Strahan assured Ripa, on air, that his Live! gig was his top priority: “This is what I do. … This is me,” he said. “This is my home. No matter what. I go nowhere. This is my love. You are my love. This is my job. So don’t worry, anybody, I’m not going anywhere.”
This morning, when Strahan made his official announcement of his pending exit on Live! he had to do so without Ripa by his side.
“Kelly’s off today,” Strahan said, convincing no one, by way of getting things rolling on today’s broadcast.
“I’ve been in the news lately,” he continued, addressing Gastayer, a Saturday Night Live alum who might be better known to ABC audiences as Suburgatory’s Sheila Shay. “I am leaving this show … to go over to GMA full-time, which is going to happen in September,” he continued, assuring viewers, “It is the same channel.”
Ripa’s not the only one taken by surprise that Disney would upend a daytime show that this season is the No. 1 entertainment daytime talk show in households (2.9 rating), tied for No. 1 among women 25-54 (1.4) and is second overall among syndicated talkers behind Dr. Phil. It was the talk of the industry yesterday when the news broke. In news circles, pundits suggested it spoke to ABC concerns about Good Morning America.
A couple of weeks ago, NBC’s Today snapped GMA’s 108-week streak as No. 1 in overall audience when the NBC News show won the weekly ratings race in both total viewers and the news demo for the first time since since 2012.
Season to date, NBC’s Today is 138K news demo viewers ahead of GMA; same time last year, GMA was ahead by 150K. In overall audience, GMA leads Today by 240K viewers, down from its 612K-viewer lead in April 2015.