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Kelly Ripa returns to ‘Live,’ speaks her mind about Michael Strahan departure

Kelly Ripa returns to ‘Live’ and opens up about Michael Strahan’s departure

Kelly Ripa returned Tuesday to her seat on Live with Kelly and Michael to a standing ovation, following a week of absence from the show.

Ripa was blindsided by co-host Michael Strahan’s announcement last week that he was leaving, and while the network said that she was off on some pre-booked “vacation” time, Ripa came clean in her opening statements.

“Our long, national nightmare is over,” she said, jokingly, to loud applause. “I’m going to be completely honest, I am fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift off-message.”

READ MORE: Michael Strahan leaving Live with Kelly and Michael

“I needed a few days to gather my thoughts,” she clarified. “After 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”

Ripa, 45, said that this mishap was important because it opened up a conversation with ABC about mutual respect.

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“[This] started a conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace,” she said.

Ripa was only told about Strahan’s September 2016 move to Good Morning America less than an hour before the news about his promotion leaked to press.

READ MORE: Meet People magazine’s most beautiful woman of 2016: Jennifer Aniston

She received a personal apology from top executives at the network, who said they “expressed regret for the way Kelly was told the news.”

Ripa’s contract is up at the end of 2017.

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