Kelly Ripa Won't Return to 'Live' This Week, Erin Andrews to Fill in

Courtesy of David Russell, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution
'Live With Kelly and Michael'

Co-host Michael Strahan announced his departure from the show on Tuesday.

Kelly Ripa will not be back on Live With Kelly and Michael this week, a spokesperson for ABC has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Erin Andrews, who is a colleague of Michael Strahan's at Fox Sports, will guest co-host with him on Thursday and Friday. Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell will co-host with Strahan on Monday. Ripa had a scheduled vacation Friday and Monday, according to the spokesperson. 

Strahan's impending departure from the show to take a full-time gig at Good Morning America was announced on Tuesday. Since then, Ripa has been a no-show. Frequent fill-in Ana Gasteyer was there on Wednesday, apparently pressed into service on Tuesday evening. According to an email she sent to the Live staff on Friday night, Ripa will return to the show on Tuesday

Strahan thanked an absent Ripa on Wednesday and attempted to joke about his exit. “I was reading some stuff, and it sounded like I died,” he said. “It is not a eulogy, people!”

But sources tell THR there has been tension between Strahan and Ripa for some time. The relationship further deteriorated when Strahan was named a correspondent on GMA in 2014. Ripa felt, according to a source close to the show, that the company was prioritizing GMA over Live.

Ripa, executive producer Michael Gelman and the show's staff learned about Strahan's exit after the show on Tuesday, a move that an ABC source admitted was intended to control leaks and keep a handle on the narrative. Representatives for Ripa did not respond to requests for comment and the host, who is active on Twitter and Instagram, has been conspicuously silent on social media.

Live's ratings performance has improved during Strahan's stint. The show is averaging nearly 4 million viewers this season with almost 1 million in the target daytime demographic of women 25-54. By contrast, Regis Philbin's final season averaged 3.3 million viewers and 1.2 million women 25-54. Live is currently tied with perennial syndicated ratings leader Dr. Phil for the top slot among female viewers

Strahan's arrival also was followed by growth among African American viewers and, by a greater margin, men. The diversified audience has helped the show grow its total viewership, while the piece of the pie occupied by women 25-54 has been on trend in its comparative stability.

Meanwhile, GMA has declined double digits and has seen NBC's Today show regain the lead this season among viewers 25-54. It's a critical benchmark since the morning shows generate the lion's share of revenue at the news divisions. Executives at ABC News have grappled with righting GMA without taking drastic measures. Ben Sherwood, now president of Disney- ABC Television Group, has been a consistent advocate for Strahan.  

When the show tapped him as a twice-weekly correspondent back in 2014, ABC News executives made it clear that Strahan had an open invitation to appear more frequently on GMA. And he recently pulled the trigger on that opportunity, said an ABC source, who noted that the deal for a full-time arrangement came together fairly quickly. Strahan, whose interview skills have improved since he joined Live in 2012, was looking for a broader platform, even if it comes with a 4 a.m. wake-up call. 

A source close to Strahan says he intends to stay on at LIve through the summer as previously planned while the show is supposed to begin auditioning new co-hosts for Ripa in September. It remains to be seen if the off-air tension between the two will bleed into their on-air chemistry. 

April 22, 10 p.m.: Updated to include Ripa's return date to the show.

comments powered by Disqus