Sunday, May 1, 2016



The NY Post has done a TELL ALL piece on the drama unfolding at 'Live
With Kelly and Michael!" On Tuesday, Kelly Ripa strolled onto the set
of “Live With Kelly and Michael,” declaring her unofficial strike
over. “I’m going to be completely honest,” she said. “I’m fairly
certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer
darts in case I drift too far off message.” Ripa continued, stating she
“earned the right” to take an unscheduled break from the show after
being blindsided last week by the news that her co-host, Michael
Strahan, was ditching “Live” for “Good Morning America.” At the end of
the speech, she gave Strahan a strained congratulations. The audience
applauded, the network execs disarmed, and Ripa marched back to the
desk. Strahan stood to pull out her chair, like he has on every show
since 2012. “No no, I got it,” Ripa said testily. The Cold War may be
over, but it’s going to take longer than one week for these icicles to
melt.For nearly four years, Ripa and Strahan have been lauded for their
on-air chemistry — a lighthearted rapport that led to a 9 percent rise
in the show’s ratings. But off-air, sources say, the two hosts were
frosty: Ripa resented Strahan’s lack of devotion to the series and his
rising star; Strahan was sick of being Ripa’s lesser-paid sidekick. He
would show up late to tapings, regularly bring his entourage to set,
and made the crew stop everything twice a week during pretapings for
him to get a haircut at the studio. (A source close to Strahan says the
haircuts were approved by “Live” executive producer Michael Gelman.)A
show insider says Strahan — who reportedly raked in $4 million as the
show’s co-host in 2012 — merely used the program as a stepping stone
and quickly became a diva.While Strahan was as charismatic as could be
on camera, one media honcho says, “when he doesn’t need to be on, he
shuts down and can be selfish.”Leading up to last year’s Halloween
episode, Strahan was so difficult that “the producers brought in an
audience for one of the pretaped segments so he would behave,” says the
show insider. Strahan often butted heads with Gelman. A few years ago,
Strahan screamed so loudly at Gelman over a show-related disagreement
that one of the producers hid under a staircase because they were
“terrified and disturbed,” says the show insider. Gelman tells The Post
that “Kelly and Michael are two hardworking professionals who always
come to work ready to do their jobs. Any suggestion to the contrary is
ridiculous gossip.”His exit date has since been pushed to May 13, four
months earlier than planned — a wise decision, given the current on-air
awkwardness, including Ripa’s digs at Strahan’s two failed marriages on
Friday’s show (“So you’ve gotten divorced . . .”) and pointed jokes
about future contract negotiations the day before.According to an
industry insider, Ripa managed to parlay the recent scandal into a
raise on her already-hefty $20 million annual salary. (An ABC rep had
no comment.) But the host is still fuming that she was informed mere
minutes before a press release went public that Strahan would be
leaving “Live” in September to become a full-time anchor on “GMA.”“She
was angry,” admits a source at ABC, who says the plan was always for
Strahan to inform Ripa and Gelman of his defection the day it was
announced. “The story leaked within minutes of the meeting [with Ripa
and Gelman] ending. So [the network] went ahead and put out the press
release.”Ripa, 45, staged a protest, refusing to come to work
and toting around a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and
Goliath” in front of the paparazzi. To some, the move reeked of
unprofessionalism “Do your job and show up. Be a big boy or girl,” says
Terry Bradshaw, co-host on “Fox NFL Sunday,” where Strahan has worked
weekends since 2008. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.” The
industry insider, who runs in the same circles as Ripa, says her
refusal to come into work was a negotiation tactic recommended by pal
Andy Cohen, executive producer of the “Real Housewives”
franchise. “Once the executives at ABC realized the huge mistake they
made, they had to correct it — and the only way to correct it was with
a big payday,” the insider says. Ripa’s contract is up in 2017, and the
show has already been renewed through 2020.Strahan, 44, joined “Live”
in 2012 after Ripa and Gelman conducted a yearlong tryout of some 60
wannabes co-hosts in the wake of Regis Philbin’s 2011 retirement. To
many, Strahan, a New York Giant who hung up his cleats in 2008, was a
surprising pick.While Ripa supported the hire initially and was part of
the approval process according to show insider, the hosts’ workplace
relationship quickly soured. (Both Ripa and Strahan’s reps declined to
comment for this story. “She really loves the show,” says the show
insider. “She knows how lucky she is to have it. For him, it’s a
temporary home and this was clear to the people who were working
there. “Things just got worse and worse and it was colored by the fact
that [Ripa] was making so much more money than he was there,” adds a
former morning-TV exec.The behind-the-scenes tension didn’t lessen
Strahan’s public appeal.“He walked the red carpet and [the press]
wanted to talk to him more than [Ripa],” says the media honcho. “She
helped him get the job and he starts moving up on his own, creating his
own brand. She started to freeze him out." Soon after he joined “Live,”
sister show “Good Morning America” came knocking, offering a recurring
twice-weekly gig. Sources say Ripa was approached with a similar deal
around the same time, but turned it down so as not to detract from her
namesake program. Strahan originally wanted nothing to do with “GMA,”
according to the morning-TV vet. But he had a change of heart as his
relationship with Ripa turned more tense. In 2014, the Super Bowl champ
began juggling both morning shows, plus “Fox NFL Sunday,” for which he
flies cross-country every in-season weekend to tape. ABC news execs
assured Ripa that Strahan’s priority was “Live.” But the pint-size host
knew from the start that her co-host’s exit would be imminent.“When he
had first agreed to go on ‘GMA,’ she said, ‘Watch what’s going to
happen.’ She knew that when he started doing that, [leaving ‘Live’]
would be his goal,” says the source.As Ripa said on-air last week,
“Live” is her second home. She’s been with ABC since 1990, when she
starred on “All My Children” for 12 years, followed by the sitcom “Hope
& Faith” from 2003 to 2006. But she didn’t become a star until she was
tapped by Philbin to take over for former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.
Suddenly, Ripa was a household name. She was fiercely loyal to “Live,”
and she expected the same in return.But ABC higher-ups were more
concerned with boosting ratings for the flailing “GMA” than with
boosting Ripa’s ego. 

“The person who really wanted to move [Strahan]
over [to ‘GMA’] was said to be [Disney CEO] Bob Iger,” says the morning
TV vet, who says Strahan actually hadn’t been testing well with
audiences at “Good Morning America” but that Iger’s mind was made up.

(An ABC spokesman says that Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC
Television Group, made the final decision.)For the network executives,
it was imperative to keep news of Strahan’s move quiet. For one, they
knew Ripa would be furious that they were prioritizing “GMA” over
“Live.”“She’s always looking over her shoulder because the news
division has always eyed a three-hour ‘GMA’ ” says the morning-TV vet
of the rumors that Ripa’s show will be bumped to the 10 a.m. slot —
which Philbin admits to The Post would not be an ideal time for
“Live.”“I like the 9 a.m.,” he says by phone. (His wife, Joy, can be
heard in the background: “Stay out of it, Regis!”)And then there are
the “GMA” anchors, many of whom the morning-TV vet says are
none-too-pleased with Strahan’s move and with having yet another
co-host with whom to compete for airtime.Ripa’s bestie, Andy Cohen,
blasted Strahan on his SiriusXM show this week for giving up “Live” to
be one of five co-hosts on “GMA.” “It’s a job you take and you take it
for life,” Cohen said of “Live.” “[Ripa’s] been at that job for 15
years . . . So I can’t get over that he left ‘Live.’ . . . Your name is
in the freaking title!” Surely the reported eight figures Strahan will
be making now at “GMA” should ease the transfer. But the TV vet warns
Strahan that “GMA” is a risky move.“He’s walking into a propeller,” he
says. “He’s strong but he better watch out, because the knives are out
and all the different stars are positioning themselves to attack. I
hope he’s ready.”

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