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Michael Strahan leaving Live in May

He was originally set to depart in September. But things happened

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ABC

The chair next to Kelly Ripa is going to be vacant a lot sooner than expected.

Michael Strahan — who was originally expected to depart Live for Good Morning America in September — will now vacate his post May 13.

“After meeting with the producers of both Live and Good Morning America, and after speaking with Kelly and Michael, we have decided on a plan that best advantages both shows for the future,” a show spokeswoman told EW. “To that end, Michael’s last day on Live will be on Friday, May 13, which not only gives the show the chance to have a nice send-off for him during the May book, but to also immediately begin the on-air search for a new co-host. This plan also allows GMA to start integrating Michael into the show more often this summer before his full-time start in September.”

The news was first reported by PEOPLE.

Earlier today, Ripa returned to Live after a five-day absence and delivered a prepared statement to the camera about why she needed time away from the show she’s co-hosted for 15 years. “I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming back to this show,” she said. “The love, the show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really need a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with the company, I earned the right — and let’s be honest, I know half of us called in sick to be here today, so we get each other.”

Afterwards, Strahan expressed happiness about her return and credited her for helping with his career.

“One thing I know about you is you love the show, you love the fans, you love the staff. I love you,” he said. “And I’m so happy you’re here because you brought me here with [Executive Producer Michael] Gelman and this show has been transforming for me, and I know this show lives on because you are the queen of morning television. And I’m right down the street. If you need me, I’m coming back to help out.”