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With Michael Strahan signing off on Friday from Live With Kelly and Michael after a nearly four-year run as Kelly Ripa’s co-host, speculation continues about who will fill his seat on the daytime talk show.
ABC will begin auditioning potential co-hosts in the next few weeks, with Ripa likely to be joined by a rotating group of guest co-hosts until a replacement is named, as she was after former co-host Regis Philbin left in late 2011.
Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, Mario Lopez and even Philbin have all been rumored as potential replacements. While some have suggested pairing Ripa with another woman, Live has long relied on a male-female co-host pairing and most of the potential replacements being discussed are men.
Sources previously told The Hollywood Reporter that Cooper is Ripa’s top choice. The two are close friends and he was her pick in 2012 when Strahan was named co-host. But Cooper is under contract at CNN into next year, where he’d have to be available for breaking news even if the network cleared him to join Live, and also contributes to CBS’ 60 Minutes. Cooper’s CNN colleague Don Lemon has also been contacted about the job, sources told THR.
Cohen, another close friend of Ripa’s, is someone many viewers quickly thought of when news of Strahan’s departure emerged. But the Bravo star has lately indicated he’s simply too busy. Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, is also someone fans have said could join his wife on the daytime talk show.
Mario Lopez, meanwhile, didn’t shut down rumors he’s interested in the job when he talked about the opening on a recent episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, simply saying that he finds talk of him potentially replacing Strahan “very flattering.”
“I love Kelly. I’ve guest-hosted with her a few times; she’s awesome,” Lopez continued. “I actually did a movie with her husband Mark, who’s a real good guy. I’m looking forward to going back and guest-hosting again.”
As for Philbin, while there were reports that he’d been contacted about the job, he recently became a contributor on the fourth hour of NBC’s Today and a source close to the veteran host told THR that there’s been no contact between his reps and Live execs.
Another high-profile host rumored to be in the running to replace Strahan is Ryan Seacrest, who recently re-upped as host of ABC’s New Year’s Rockin‘ Eve for four more years. Although Seacrest’s schedule has opened up considerably since American Idol ended, he’d still have to do some logistical reshuffling to co-host the New York-based Live, which among other things would seem to interfere with his daily radio show out of L.A.
A number of the reported finalists from Live‘s last co-host auditions, to replace Philbin, have once again been rumored as potential replacements for Strahan. Such candidates include Josh Groban; Neil Patrick Harris (now based in New York and no longer filming How I Met Your Mother, the weekly CBS sitcom he was still shooting out of L.A. in 2012) and Bachelor/Bachelorette host Chris Harrison.
After Philbin left Live, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan made it clear he wanted a shot as co-host, and served as guest co-host, but this time around the local favorite tweeted he won’t openly lobby for the job.
Who do you think should be Kelly Ripa’s new co-host? Cast your vote in the poll below.
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