Kelly Ripa’s year-long search for her new Live co-host is finally over. This morning, Ryan Seacrest was officially named the co-host of the long-running morning talk show, which will now be known as Live with Kelly and Ryan.
“Today is a very good day,” said Ripa, before introducing Seacrest as her new co-host. His first words: “Nice to see you, partner!”
While the duo didn’t talk too much on-camera about why and how Seacrest landed the job, Ripa said in a statement, “Ryan is a close friend and his star shines as brightly off camera as it does on. His tremendous success is only matched by his impeccable reputation. Plainly said, everyone loves him, and so will our daily viewers.”
In his own statement, Seacrest said, “Not only is Kelly Ripa one of the most talented live hosts in broadcast TV, she’s also become a very dear friend to me over the years. It’s consistently been my privilege and pleasure to work alongside Kelly with all her incredible talents, charm and humor—whether hosting the Disney Christmas Day Parade special with her a decade ago or guest co-hosting alongside her on Live, it’s always just been easy and fun to share a set with her, and we have a blast.”
Seacrest already works with ABC as the executive producer of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Two weeks ago, he extended his deal with E! to continue as host and executive producer of the network’s Live from the Red Carpet shows. As part of a separate NBCUniversal deal, last summer, he hosted NBC’s live late-night coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, after previously serving as a correspondent for the 2012 London Games, where he also co-hosted the Closing Ceremony.
Seacrest, who had at one point been considered in the running to replace Matt Lauer as host of Today, will now be competing against that franchise in the 9 a.m. hour of Today, which Megyn Kelly will likely anchor later this year.
His production company, Ryan Seacrest Productions, produces shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, NBC’s Shades of Blue and CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler.
The new co-host will move to New York, and will continue to host and executive produce On Air with Ryan Seacrest, his nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time show for iHeartMedia, and a nationally-syndicated Top 40 radio show. He’ll host those shows via a new iHeartRadio studio in the ABC building where Live is filmed. Seacrest said on the show that he’ll fly home to L.A. on the weekends.
The Live co-host slot opened up just over a year ago, when Michael Strahan made the surprise announcement that he would be leaving Live with Kelly and Michael to work full time at Good Morning America.
Ripa, who was blindsided by Strahan’s news, took a week-long hiatus before returning to the show, which led to a week of headlines about behind-the-scenes tensions, with speculation that ABC was looking to bump Live, which is syndicated by Disney/ABC and airs at 9 a.m. on many ABC stations, in favor of a third hour of GMA.
When Ripa returned to the show, she said that she, Strahan and Disney-ABC execs had buried the hatchet and “our long, national nightmare is over.”
She added that the controversy “started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace … and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that Live is a priority. There is a commitment to this show and the people that work here and most importantly to you, the viewers.”
Among the other names in the running for the job were several of Ripa’s frequent guest co-hosts, Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Jerry O’Connell and Fred Savage.
“One of the secrets to Live’s decades of success in daytime is the relatability of our hosts and their ability to deeply connect with the audience. Ryan has a charm and charisma that resonate with his devoted TV and radio audiences, and together, he and the remarkable Kelly Ripa will take Live to a whole new level,” said Janice Marinelli, president, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution, in a statement.