Michael Strahan replaces Regis Philbin, who retired in November after clocking 995,000 minutes in his 28 years as the morning show’s leading man. The show is now called Live! With Kelly and Michael, according to Mashable.
“We finally have our new guy. That’s right, I said, ‘guy.’ This morning on ‘GMA,’ I wouldn’t even commit to whether it was as guy or a girl. I was so secretive!” Kelly said.
She went on: “You’re the best audience. I love you guys. I really appreciate all your input during our co-host search. . . . Stop sending me your résumés to my home address. . . . I’ve been very fortunate. . . . I’ve sat next to so many talented people. . . . I have enjoyed every single solitary person, except for, like, one. The staff is laughing because they know it’s true,” she continued in what may be her highest concentration of “I’s” per second yet.
“But now it’s time for a new era of our show to begin. . . . It gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest member of our ‘Live!’ family. We are honored to have him — Michael Strahan!”
“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” said Strahan after being introduced Tuesday and lifting Ripa off her fit as he entered. “Regis, he set the benchmark for so many. I’m in awe of him. … If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Strahan was seen getting out of a large SUV, with its black-tinted windows, and running into the studio past a cloud of confetti and balloons. According to The Washington Post, Kelly jumped into his arms, and he carried her across the goal line, while whispering things into her ear.
She kissed him on the lips. The audience woo-hooed.
“It’s so nice to have a cohost who can literally sweep you off your feet.”
“I’m speechless,” Strahan said after the confetti stopped falling.
After the show, Kelly Ripa told reporters what landed Strahan the job: “We have similar senses of humor…We like a man who’s willing to dress up like a lady.”
“Kelly and Michael were great today,” the show’s executive producer Michael Gelman said. “There was a lot of excitement in the studio and their chemistry proved exactly why he was chosen for the job.”
“They had this energy and they’re able to have this fun and shorthand together that it just works,” Gelman said. “So it was a tough decision, but Michael coming back all these times made it much easier.”
NY Daily News writes that speculation has built for months over who’d get the job. A July report claimed that Strahan, singer Josh Groban, and “Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers were being seriously considered, with Meyers as the frontrunner.
TMZ in August pegged Strahan, who won a Super Bowl ring in 2008, as the co-host in a report, citing ABC staff members for relaying the news.
At the time, a spokesperson for Disney/ABC Television Group told Mashable they wouldn’t comment on “co-host speculation.”