Our long national nightmare about Live! With Kelly and Michael is over, but there’s still work to be done on the hit daytime series. Namely, finding a replacement for cohost Michael Strahan, who will leave the morning show and his seat next to Kelly Ripa in May.
Though many would like to see Strahan’s position filled by a woman (EW previously suggested Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe), the list of replacements thus far is predominantly male, with possible candidates ranging from Mario Lopez to Anderson Cooper and more.
While Ripa has remained tight-lipped about Strahan’s potential replacement (though she did joke about bringing an armadillo “into contract negotiations” with her during an April 28 Live! segment), many of Strahan’s potential replacements have said something on the issue. Ahead, what they’re saying about filling the vacant chair left by the retired NFL player.
1. Mario Lopez
Lopez is no stranger to the Live! set. He previously filled in for former host Regis Philbin prior to Strahan’s arrival, and was even rumored to permanently take over hosting duties in 2012. During Friday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, host Ellen DeGeneres asked Lopez whether he’s considering joining the ABC show as Ripa’s cohost. “Ellen, starting rumors… Well, I got to go over everything with Mrs. Lopez. She’s the real boss of the house so we’ll see what she has to say about that,” he said.
2. Anderson Cooper
Ripa, Cooper’s real-life friend, has reportedly suggested the CNN anchor by name to Live! producers (and Cooper is expected to be one of the fill-in hosts after Strahan leaves). “Kelly is the heart and soul of that show and it’s going to go on and continue to be great, and I wish Michael the best in his new endeavor,” Cooper said of potentially joining the show, which he’s guest-hosted before, on Thursday’s episode of Watch What Happens Live. “Look, I’m very happy at CNN… It would be a dream to work with Kelly, but nobody’s offering anything.”
3. Andy Cohen
Ripa and Cohen are good friends, but the host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live recently told Us Weekly his plate is full with other opportunities. “I’ve kind of said everything I had to say about it… I have 10 jobs!” he said. “I have my own late-night talk show that’s on every night at 11 o’clock!”
4. Regis Philbin
Philbin, who hosted Live! with Kathie Lee Gifford from 1988-2000 and Ripa from 2001-2011, recently spoke out about Disney’s treatment of Ripa following reports that she was informed of Strahan’s departure mere moments before the news was made public. “They should have told her at the beginning,” Philbin said before speculating on who could potentially join her on the program. “[Kelly’s] got a bunch of people she likes. Whoever it is, God bless them.” A photographer then asked Philbin if he’d consider coming back to the show after his nearly five-year absence. “I’d have to think about it,” he responded, noting that he hadn’t yet been asked to come back.
5. Pat Kiernan
Back in 2012, Kiernan was not shy about wanting to fill Philbin’s spot as Live! cohost. “The day Regis announced his retirement, I talked to my agent and said, ‘We got to get in line for that,’” Kiernan said in a 2012 interview with the New York Times. But the popular NY1 anchor, who sat in with Ripa while Live! was searching for hosts, was not selected for the position. Asked earlier this month on Twitter if Strahan’s departure meant another round of Kiernan stumping for the gig, the New York staple said no. “I’m taking a less active approach this time,” he joked.
Who would you like to see replace Strahan?