Kelly Ripa Talks Michael Strahan’s ‘Live’ Departure: ‘People Deserve Respect’

Here's Kelly Ripa's First Batch of Co-Hosts After Michael Strahan Departs 'Live!'
A new era of LIVE with Kelly and Michael (sans Michael Strahan) is upon us

As Michael Strahan’s run on Live with Kelly and Michael comes to an end this Friday (May 13), Kelly Ripa opens up about his surprise exit – and the unceremonious way in which she was told.

Ripa spoke to People about how she is excited for Strahan’s new journey on Good Morning America, despite the fact that she was blindsided by the announcement a couple of weeks ago.

On being informed of Strahan’s departure at almost the same time as the media, Ripa told People:

There’s a part of me that can say, ‘Okay, I understand. This may have been an oversight.’ And again, after 26 years, at this point we are like a family. And sometimes when you are so comfortable with somebody, you may not give them the same consideration as somebody you’re not as comfortable with – a certain formality falls away.

After being dropped with the bombshell news, Ripa immediately took a reportedly pre-planned anniversary vacation with husband Mark Conseulos and didn’t appear on the show for several days. At the time, a source told People she felt “betrayed and so hurt” by how his announcement was handled.

Ripa explained, “I think what people need to understand about the entire situation is that I didn’t just not show up,” she says. When she was being told of Strahan’s GMA announcement, “I said, in the room, ‘I am going to take the day off.’ I needed to actually sit and gather information. I needed to make sure I said the appropriate things on TV and didn’t just come out and say whatever.”

When she finally returned to the show a week later (Tuesday, April 25), she told the audience:

I always speak from the heart. I didn’t want to come out here and say something I might regret. What transpired though, over the course of a few days, has been extraordinary, in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace.

Ripa reiterated to People, “I think that all people are deserving of fair treatment in the workplace. People deserve respect. People should be treated equally and with dignity.”

She added:

I think that requires a certain amount of empathy on a level. When you’re dealing with big business, it’s easy to forget that you’re dealing with people and that people have feelings. It’s easy to just look at it like a business unit, a unit, a unit.

As for her feelings on Strahan, ABC and Live!, Ripa explained, “I’m not dealing with monsters. I don’t think of anybody as a monster or out to get me. But sometimes stability and dependability can be misinterpreted as passive. Like, ‘Oh, we don’t have to worry about her, she’s fine. She’s fine.’ And I am fine, but I need assurances that we’re all going to be fine.”

She added:

I get it. We’re excited for Michael. He wanted that job, and it’s great for him. I think it is a perfect match, I really do. However, what nobody considered is there’s a whole other group of people that it really impacts, because we have to now find another great person.

And finding that person with whom she has good chemistry won’t necessarily be easy: “It doesn’t fall out of the sky. It takes a lot of work, and it takes a group discussion.”

“People make mistakes, and we’re all human,” she tells People. “They’re human and I’m human. We all have these moments, and it’s about how you move forward and how you begin again.”

Subtle tension between the two co-hosts has been evident since Kelly returned, with her making digs at his divorces and making him uncomfortable with jokes about “contract negotiations,” for example.

And according to TMZ, there’s a “major cold front” on set as well, and the environment is more unfriendly than people have let on:

Sources connected to production tell us prior to Kelly’s protest a few weeks ago, she would sit in her makeup room with the door open and Michael would greet her as he arrived … but that’s all changed.We’re told Kelly’s door is shut every morning … delaying any “good morning” salutations, and Strahan believes she’s sending a clear message.

Although they’re putting on a good face on the air — we’re told the tension between them is palpable.

Read Kelly Ripa’s full interview with People on newsstands Friday.