On Wednesday evening, new information emerged about the ABC morning shakeup announced on Tuesday—that Michael Strahan will leave Live for Good Morning America—and the ensuing fallout. According to previous reports, Kelly Ripa, the network's 15-year morning fixture, was only informed of her co-host’s departure minutes before press releases went out to media. By all accounts, Ripa was understandably outraged that her employer did not give her more notice about such a significant programming change—but for different reasons then previously speculated.
The New York Times reports that Ripa had expressed concerns to ABC about Strahan’s involvement with Good Morning America when the former football player began appearing as an on-air correspondent two years ago.
“Ms. Ripa was worried it would distract him from Live but was reassured it would only be a temporary position,” the New York Times reports. When Strahan broke the news to Ripa, in a meeting with the show's producer Michael Gelman and WABC general manager Dave Davis on Tuesday morning, Ripa is said to have erupted.
“Didn’t I tell you this was going to happen?” Ripa said to Davis, according the NYT’s inside source. “I told you two years ago this was going to happen.”
Despite ABC’s blatant misfire, various sources have popped up in the past 24 hours to accuse Ripa—the one person who was in the dark about these behind-the-scenes proceedings—of overreacting to the news, a disturbingly sexist spin on the story.
“She went crazy,” a source told People. "[L]ike a lunatic. Crazy.” Another insider told E!, “She was livid. It wasn't pretty.” Page Six piles on, “There’s been a total Ripa meltdown.”
Another insider from Page Six suggests that Ripa was so volatile that she could not control her own emotions, and that is why she did not go on-air Wednesday. “Kelly didn’t want to show up to work and mouth off and say something she would have regretted,” the insider says. “She is upset and didn’t want to take it out on her own staff.”
A source at People counters, “She's dedicated everything to the program, it was the primary focus in her career, she has been dedicated to maintaining the show for both the staff and viewers—and then all of a sudden the entire program is changed without them being decent enough to give her any notice.”
While some claim Ripa is already considering replacements—like Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen—CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter suggests otherwise.
“My understanding is that her agent and manager are flying in to meet with her today to talk about next steps,” Stelter told E!. “It's clear this is a botched transition by ABC. [...] I'm sure other networks would love a chance to talk with Kelly and have before.”
People adds that Ripa is currently on her way to Turks and Caicos for a previously-planned vacation with her family that, because of the Strahan bombshell, the Live host decided to start early.
Will network executives ever get a job transition executed correctly and drama-free?
This is as bad as the two times NBC whiffed transitioning new talent at the Tonight Show, first replacing iconic Johnny Carson with Jay Leno then some 20 years later replace Leno with Conan O'Brian. ABC did in fact handle the situation completely wrong and what's worse is they least Michael Strahan totally exposed to the fall out in the process.
On a professional level, Kelly has legitimate concerns for how the show has been treated by ABC. What was suppose to be a scheduled vacation now seems to be an impromptu boycott of sorts that could be used to damage her soon to be former co-host. And Kelly has some leverage here. Live! dominates its slot in daytime programming and while Strahan can be credited with doing his share of making the show a big success in his tenure there, Kelly has been with the show for a significant time including hosting it solo for almost two years so a case can be made that Kelly Ripa is, for all intents and purposes, the driving force of a very popular and long running program.
That means that her wounded and shocked response plus the extended absence makes Michael the bad guy. Something that could damage his image going into GMA full time. And while that won't kill his career or do lasting damage to Good Morning America it could affect the ratings bump his presence is supposed to bring to the show in the fall. Expect to see Michael in damage control mode when Kelly gets back and publicly apologizing to her.
On a personal level, Kelly has a right to be hurt because she invested wholeheartedly in bringing Michael into the show. Quite frankly from my observation the chemistry between them was so good and easy and intimate that I started to suspect there was something more early on when he started.
They seemed to be too into each other:
Daddy's home?... Seriously?
Mike got the job in September of 2012 and in the first 6 months...
His first day on the job he gets a prolonged hug...
and kiss on the mouth from kelly..which is a bit over the top considering its just a co-hosting job.
They walk onto the show holding hand and fingers interlocked something thats generally reserved for lovers...
most famously shown by Spike Lee...
They got nekkid together...
then got in bed together...
After exercising kelly spontaneously (and comfortably) rolls over, pushes her ass on him..and they spoon.
Mike looks a little TOO happy...
Somehow they come up with a reason for Mike to lift Kristin Chenoweth and Kelly.
They were constantly taking promo pics like they're a loving romantic couple...
oops forgot this one...Kelly shows her pole dancing skill and Mike volunteers to be the "pole".
Its all just chemistry and innocent right??
Its been reported that Kelly was "livid" about the news and how it was delivered. Considering how well they worked together it's understandable why she went ballistic. Even though they're all on the same network team, at this point its safe to assume that Kelly has no problem sending Michael over to GMA as damaged goods even if the dirtying effect is temporary.
Mike's new job starts in the fall but the next four months are going to very interesting viewing watching how this transition plays out.