The dramatic saga over Michael Strahan’s surprising departure from “Live With Kelly & Michael” finally came to a peaceful end yesterday when Kelly Ripa made her return to the show and gave Strahan her blessing about his decision to leave. However, it looks like Strahan has decided to change his plans and leave “Live” earlier than anyone expected.
As previously reported, ABC made the announcement last week that Strahan would transition from being just a part-time “Good Morning America” co-host and leave “Live” in September to become a full-time “GMA” anchor. However, Ripa didn’t find out about the announcement until shortly before it was made and she was reportedly so furious that she took days off from work last week before going on vacation.
Ripa made her “Live” return yesterday and admitted that there was indeed a standoff between herself, ABC and Strahan over how his departure was handled.
“So 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 said, before later adding that she was happy for Strahan.
“Apologies have been made 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. I am thrilled for Michael. I’m thrilled for you,” Ripa added. “This is a tremendous opportunity and I couldn’t be and we couldn’t be prouder of you.”
With the feud finally behind Strahan and Ripa, producers for “Good Morning America” and “Live” also decided to meet and figure out how to fix the high-profile mess and the decision was made that Strahan will leave “Live” in May instead of September.
“May 13 is his last show,” a source tells PEOPLE. “He’ll take the summer off and GMA can integrate him early before September, and this will give Live! more time to find the co-host. He’s totally fine with that. Now he can enjoy his summer.”
Sources also say that ABC executives apologized to Strahan for putting him in a tough position by asking him not to say anything about his departure to Ripa or any “Live” staff until the last minute.
“They admitted that they handled it wrong and put him in a terrible position,” the source says. “The network decided and the show decided that they wanted more time to find the cohost. He’s fine either way.”
“This is not about feeling awkward with Kelly,” the source added. “He was willing to stay until the fall, but the network is saying this gives them more time to find the co-host. He’s a team player. He will do what they ask.”
The source also addressed Ripa’s speech about Strahan’s departure and explained that Strahan walked into the segment blind, not knowing what Ripa would have to say about him to their audience.
“He had no idea how she was going to address it. They didn’t talk about it beforehand but he respected that it was her thing to do, however she wanted to do it,” said the source. “The vibe between them is all business. It remained tense. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Nobody shared with Michael what she was going to do. But he just went there to do his show and be professional.”
Well, regardless of how Strahan and Ripa still feel about each other, the situation seems to have finally come to an end with a resolution that will help all parties move on soon enough.