When your time at Live! is over, it is over. The sword of Kelly Ripa is unforgiving. There was to be no drawn-out waiting for the new autumn season to get a fresh set of titles done. The message of Monday morning’s show was Michael Strahan doesn’t live here any more.
The show is now called Live! with Kelly. The de-Strahaned titles of ABC’s morning show feature just Ripa emerging from New York cabs, and getting her makeup done. The coffee mugs and logos have also all been de-Strahaned.
The show clearly wanted to eradicate all trace of the drawn-out soap opera of Strahan’s departure to Good Morning America, Ripa’s temporary self-imposed exile from the show, and the hasty jettisoning of Strahan from Live! when everybody concerned had judged the whole thing had become a far-too public, visible mess.
Friday’s farewell, as The Daily Beast put it, was distinctly dry-eyed.
These are sensitive waters: Aliya S. King wrote recently that Ripa’s reaction to Strahan’s departure could be read as a “racial micro-aggression.”
All would have had stayed safely wiped clean had Ripa and executive producer Michael Gelman not chosen to have her “incredible friend” Jimmy Kimmel be her first new era co-host—that is, before they choose a permanent co-host.
The rock anthem ‘Go Big or Go Home’ (by American Authors—this morning’s musical guests) set the tone—Ripa even gallantly held out Kimmel’s chair for him, as Strahan would do for her. Her desk now, you see.
There was a thunderous standing ovation.
“Where’s Michael?” Kimmel asked his buddy.
“You don’t read newspapers,” Ripa mugged.
“Everything all right, everything good?” he persisted.
“Lets start at the beginning—what happened?” he asked of Strahan.
Howard Stern, whom Kimmel had spoken to earlier, had given him a list of “about 75 questions” to ask. Gelman confessed to feeling sweaty, so Kimmel turned to him instead.
Will you ever talk to Michael Strahan again?
“I’m sure I will,” Gelman said.
Will he return to the show as a guest?
“At some point it’s possible.”
There was not much enthusiasm to these responses: the viewer could only think, “Wow, things got really bad there.”
Perhaps it was Kimmel’s friendship with Ripa that stopped him from putting her on the spot with those openers.
Next from the cheerfully smutty Kimmel: “Does Kelly do the show without panties ever?…Oh, that was for you,” he added, turning to Ripa.
Kimmel is a friend of Ripa’s, and this was said in good humor, but she was also being sexually humiliated—albeit with in-joke smiles on faces—on her troubled morning show.
She always wore underwear, Ripa replied, and today she was wearing two pairs.
Was the farewell hugging and kissing on Friday’s show between Ripa and Strahan genuine, asked Kimmel.
“Yeah, we don’t fake hug and kiss,” Ripa insisted seriously.
“It wasn’t like air-kissing, it was genuine.” Her expression and manner suggested her heart would go on.
Kimmel had read that pictures of Strahan had been removed backstage, but it wasn’t true, he noted. “We haven’t gotten around to it yet,” said Ripa.
Kimmel then produced a marker pen for each temporary co-host to write their name under hers. The ‘travel trivia’ game wheel descended to reveal Kimmel’s selection of permanent co-host ideas: Kylie Jenner, Jon Bon Jovi, Jojo The Bachelorette, Derek Jeter, Pippa Middleton (Ripa and Pippa sounded good, said Kimmel), ‘Becky with the good hair,’ and a party-sized summer sausage.
“Dare I dream?” Kelly wondered of the latter option.
The wheel was spun, the sausage won. But then Kimmel mugged getting a call in his ear: The sausage had just agreed to join Good Morning America.
The rest of the hour showed just how brilliant a morning talk show with Jimmy Kimmel could be: He was rejecting of all the safe, smiley chit-chattiness of the genre.
The dancer for the show’s travel trivia game—a gentleman in sunglasses from Greenwich, Connecticut—was observed with a horrified expression; Kimmel also castigated Ripa for the “poison” of Botox she injected into her forehead.
“You’re so fertile,” Kimmel said to guest Gordon Ramsay about the chef and his wife Tana expecting their fifth child, and accused him of lying when he said he got on with fellow British chef Jamie Oliver.
Ripa tried to calm the wildness down, but Ramsay must have sworn, because bleeped-out silence reigned for a few seconds.
At the end of the hour, Kimmel presented Ripa with half a sausage to get acquainted with, and wrote tomorrow’s co-host’s, Jussie Smollett’s, name on a mug.
We hope Jimmy Kimmel comes back.