Kelly Ripa's return to Live! With Kelly and Michaelon Tuesday was inevitably awkward for both herself and Michael Strahan, but they made it work.
The 45-year-old co-host had not appeared on the show since it was announced earlier last week that Strahan would be leaving Live! for a full-time position at Good Morning America.
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The co-hosts came out on Tuesday holding hands, but Ripa chose to stand alone as tearfully addressed the audience, who gave her a standing ovation. "Guys, guys, guys! Our long national nightmare is over!" she quipped. "I am fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with trained tranquilizer darts in case I go too far off message."
Ripa said that she needed some time to process the news of Strahan's departure, admitting that it caught her off guard. "The love, the show of support to this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts after 26 years at this company, I earned the right," she said. "In that time, I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart and I didn't want to come out here and just say something I might regret. So, what transpired over the course of these days has been extraordinary. It started a much bigger conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace."
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She added, "And since we're being honest, I don't consider this just a workplace, this is my second home. This is a place that I have devoted myself to not just because of you, our loyal viewers, but because of all the producers and the crew who work on this show."
Ripa insisted that she was happy for her co-host's new job. "I am thrilled for Michael. I am thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity. I couldn't be and we couldn't be prouder of you and of everything we've accomplished together," she said as the audience applauded. She then quipped, "I just want to say one thing, my dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we are all crazy!"
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Strahan expressed his excitement for having Ripa back on the show. "I am so happy you are back. One thing I know about you, and you love this show, you love the fans, you love the staff," he gushed. "I love you, and I am so happy you are here because you brought me here with [executive producer Michael] Gelman, and this show has been transforming for me."
Continuing to compliment his co-host, he continued, "I know this show lives on because you are the Queen of Morning Television, and it will continue to go and I'm right down the street! You need me, I'm coming back to help out."
Ahead of her return to the daytime talk show, CNN reported that Ripa and Strahan received apologies from the top brass at ABC regarding the mishandled announcement, and the executives "expressed regret for the way Kelly was told the news."
"Apologies have been made," Ripa revealed on the show. "Our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority."
On Friday, Ripa reached to the Live! staff in an email, praising her co-workers. "Your kindness, support and love has overwhelmed me," Ripa's note read. "We are a family and I look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday morning. Love, Kelly."
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Meanwhile, Strahan, 44, has continued to compliment his co-host amid all the drama. "She's just been an amazing influence on me, and this has truly changed my life to be here with her," he told the Live! audience last Wednesday. "Kelly, I thank you. I love you, and everyone else here at Live!"