EXCLUSIVE: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Found 'Peace' Before His Controversial 'Live!' Exit

by John Boone 9:57 AM PDT, May 13, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Found 'Peace' Before His Controversial 'Live!' Exit

Despite all the drama surrounding Michael Strahan's abrupt exit from Live! With Kelly and Michael, the co-hosts were able to make "peace" before bidding farewell.

After four years, the 44-year-old former NFL star left the show on Friday, and while Ripa, 45, appeared to harbor some hurt feelings over the ordeal -- she was spotted wearing a "Freedom" jacket before his final show -- sources tell ET the two resolved their issues with each other.

"Kelly realized her issue wasn't really with Michael, but the network," sources tell ET, noting the "chill" between the co-hosts has definitely thawed over the past week. "Are they best friends? No. But there definitely is some peace."

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There "wasn't a big conversation or 'Kumbaya moment,'" the source explains, but simply Ripa "reflecting and having a realization that he had a choice to make and business to take care of. That being said, she's still angry over being disrespected by the bosses."

Ripa apparently felt "blindsided" when news broke last month that Strahan would leave the daytime talk show to join Good Morning America full-time and took a leave of absence to process the announcement. Contrary to reports that the Live! staff is living "in fear" for their jobs, though, we're told this is not the case.

"They feel secure. Kelly has been her usual self to the staff," a Live! source reveals to ET. "Kelly has been a leader, telling the staff, 'We've got this. We'll navigate this. We've done this before.'"

(Strahan is Ripa's second co-host after Regis Philbin departed in 2011.)

Still, the crew is said to be "relieved" that Strahan's last show is finally over. "Mostly because things are truly getting back to business as usual," the source says. "They're over the scrutiny from having so many eyeballs dissecting the show and hosts."

WATCH: 'Live!' Removes Michael Strahan's Name From Signage Ahead of His Final Show

Next up: The search for Ripa's new co-host begins! "ABC wants to find the right person. They don't feel like they need to hurry to name a replacement. They're going to take their time," the Live! source says. "We'll see lots of guest co-hosts trying out the seat this summer."

Jimmy Kimmel will kick off that string of guest co-hosts on Monday, with Empire's Jussie Smollett and comedian Cedric the Entertainer also appearing during the first Strahan-less week on Live! We're told Ripa's first choice for a permanent replacement is still Anderson Cooper.

"Kelly is angling hard for Anderson to be her next co-host," the same source reveals. "Anderson's last attempt at daytime TV didn't go so well [Anderson Live was canceled after two seasons], so as a result, not everyone is Team Anderson. There are definitely some concerns there."

As for Strahan's plans post-Live! and pre-GMA, sources say he is going to "relax" and "de-stress" this weekend. A Stray-cation!

Ripa recently opened up about the entire ordeal, revealing she needed "assurances" that the entire Live! staff was going to be fine and whether she thought her bosses were "monsters." Find out what else she said in the video below.