Kelly Ripa returns to “Live”


But Michael Strahan’s exit moved up to May 13th

Upon her return to Live Tuesday morning, Kelly Ripa joked “Our long national nightmare is over.”

She might have referred to the 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks season, which ended Monday night with a Game 7 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Or more likely, she was referring to the drama surrounding her going AWOL last week from her talk show which she co-hosts with Michael Strahan – who announced he was leaving, which prompted Ripa’s absence in the first place.

As you know by now, Strahan announced he was exiting Live With Kelly and Michael last week to join the cast of Good Morning America catching co-host Ripa off guard, claiming ABC officials kept her in the dark about the decision. Ripa did receive an apology from ABC about how the situation was handled.

The news and Ripa’s reaction to it generated worldwide headlines, unusual for a syndicated morning show based in the United States.

While both Ripa and Strahan appeared to get along on-camera, reports surfaced about off-screen tension on the set between them, and one report stating Strahan was being “bullied” by Ripa (yes, this was an actual headline.)

Thus, it came as no surprise the departure of Strahan now comes on May 13 instead of early September, as originally planned. Disney made the decision so they can get their on-air auditions for Kelly Ripa’s next co-host underway as soon as possible while Strahan gets more time off to prepare for his Good Morning America gig. The last time a co-host of Ripa’s left, it took ten months to find a replacement.

Ratings for Ripa’s return Tuesday drew a 4.7 rating and 16 share in Nielsen’s 54 overnight metered markets, up 62 percent from the previous Tuesday’s episode.

In the most recent ratings report, Live And Kelly and Michael finished second (behind Dr. Phil) among all syndicated talk shows with a 2.9 household rating for the week ending April 17, down 3 percent from the previous week. However, this was two days before the controversy broke.

No word on who would be Ripa’s future co-hosts, but names already surfacing include Anderson Cooper.

Here in Chicago, Live airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on WLS-TV.

To watch Kelly Ripa’s speech to the audience Tuesday, watch below: