NEW YORK – Michael Strahan wrapped co-host Kelly Ripa in a giant hug in the final moment of their talk show, his exit on Friday accelerated by awkwardness surrounding the announcement of the former football star’s new job at ABC’s Good Morning America.
“A lot has happened, a lot has happened,” he said as a clip reel of some light moments on the show rolled — Strahan in a fat suit, wearing red “kinky boots” from the Broadway show, dressed as Serena Williams and in a giant afro wig.
A lot happened in the last month, too, when Ripa made headlines by abruptly taking time off after learning only minutes before the rest of the world that her TV partner was leaving. Her bosses apologized and Ripa, upon her return, said the incident opened a conversation about workplace respect. Strahan had been on the show since September 2012, when he replaced Regis Philbin.
ABC had initially said Strahan was to work with Ripa for the rest of the summer, but moved his exit to Friday when the transition was fumbled.
The show now starts an extended period of guest hosts with Ripa, some auditioning to be Strahan’s permanent replacement.
As she sipped from a Live With Kelly and Michael mug on Friday, Ripa wryly noted that there will be a run on such merchandise.
“It’s bittersweet,” Strahan said. “Of course, you get nervous like this. This is a moment I didn’t anticipate being here at this point. But it’s here, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
He said he’ll remain “in the family.” Good Morning America, which is counting on Strahan’s sunny personality to reverse fading ratings, is broadcast right before Live With Kelly and Michael in much of the country.
But he became wide-eyed when Ripa suggested that he guest-host for her when she goes on vacation in a couple of weeks.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “When they say ‘too soon?’ Yes.”
With Strahan saying he wanted a low-key send-off, they moved swiftly into the show’s fluffy host chat segment. Ripa recounted seeing New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez in a bar the previous night and told about a hotel stay where the toilet was so tall her feet dangled when she sat.
Actor Matt Bomer was a guest, praising Strahan for his “great intelligence and grace and generosity,” while also noting Ripa looked better than he had ever seen her. New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony came on to talk about his role in an upcoming movie.
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, in New York next week for the network’s announcement of its fall schedule, will be guest host on Monday. Fred Savage, Seal and Andy Cohen are also lined up for hosting gigs.