Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan‘s behind the scenes relationship on Live with Kelly and Michael was often a source of tabloid fodder during the duo’s co-hosting run. He eventually left after four years for Good Morning America, while she stayed and later moved forward with longtime American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. Still, questions have lingered as to what could have possibly happened behind the scenes. Thankfully, Strahan finally provided some answers.
The NFL Hall of Famer sat down with The New York Times for an interview that touched on a wide variety of subjects. It’s definitely worth a read, but for our purposes, let’s focus on the Kelly Ripa stuff. Thankfully, there was plenty of it, though some of the comments were overt and some of them were still a little cryptic.
As for why he left the show, Michael Strahan says it was actually more of a network decision than anything else. He told the paper, “I didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want a job at G.M.A.‘ I was asked to do it by the people who run the network. It was not really a choice.”
So, that’s interesting for a couple of reasons. First, his departure has been traditionally portrayed as his decision and a byproduct of personality conflicts with Kelly Ripa. Second, it would indicate that the network was probably invested in keeping both as personalities and didn’t want either to get fed up and leave. The logical conclusion there, if both of those things are true, is that executives saw a troubling situation that would probably get worse and stepped in and offered a life raft to both Strahan and indirectly to Ripa.
Michael Strahan didn’t want to be a sidekick
Elsewhere in the interview, Strahan is open about there being problems behind the scenes. A recurring theme of the discussion is selfishness and people being out for themselves and/or not playing as a team, but he refrains from directly calling Ripa selfish. He does, however, say he tried to institute weekly meetings to work on their issues, only for her to cancel them. He also says he didn’t realize he’d been brought in to be a “sidekick”, though he refused to directly state whether he was discussing his tenure on Live with the sidekick comment. Here’s that full quote…
“I’ve had jobs where I got there and felt like: Wow, I didn’t know I was supposed to be a sidekick. I thought I was coming here to be a partner.”
Fortunately, the interview isn’t just one long string of direct or implied negative statements about Ripa. Strahan actually goes out of his way to praise his former co-star, saying he really learned how to “craft” a story from her. If you’re telling a story about a glass of water, she taught him to “make it seem like the most interesting glass of water.” He continued later, “I don’t hate her… I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.”
The history of the entertainment industry is littered with people who worked very well creatively but just could not get along. It’s the reason why so many beloved bands break up and so many writer-director duos part ways and work on projects with other people. Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan had a great four year run. Now it’s nice to see them working on new things and seemingly, working with new people who they seem to get along with a little better.