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Kelly Ripa says affection toward Michael Strahan was genuine

Ripa answers pointed questions from Jimmy Kimmel on her first day without Strahan

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ABC

Kelly Ripa didn’t have to mention her former co-host on Live! today; her fill-in co-host Jimmy Kimmel took care of that.

On her first day hosting the Live! show without Michael Strahan, Kimmel took the chair and immediately started making cracks about the big guy who filled his seat for the last four years.

“Where’s Michael?” he asked, after walking hand-in-hand with Ripa to center stage.

“Oh that’s right, you don’t read newspapers,” she replied.

Ripa went on to explain how Kimmel always fills in as host whenever Live! relaunches as it did this morning — sans the name Michael and his video image in the title sequence.

“I’m like the ex-boyfriend you go back to for sex after you break up,” he quipped, before launching into a myriad of questions about the last month on the syndicated talk show. “Let’s start from the beginning. What happened?”

Having taped an installment of Howard Stern earlier today, Kimmel said he came armed with “75 questions” from him and Robin Quivers to ask Ripa. Among them: will she ever talk to Strahan again and were those on-camera hugs real on Friday? Executive Producer Michael Gelman answered some of them: Yes, they will likely talk again and sure, Strahan may come back someday.

As for the on-camera affection, “We don’t fake hug and kiss,” Ripa said. “It wasn’t like air kissing. It was genuine.”

Kimmel also shot down press reports that Strahan’s picture had been taken down throughout the studio. “There are millions of pictures,” he explained.

Then it was time to spin a wheel of possible co-hosts for Ripa. Out of seven possible contenders — JoJo the Bachelorette, Kylie Jenner, and Becky with the Good Hair among them — the wheel stopped on a party-sized summer sausage.

“People love summer sausage,” Kimmel cracked, before saying that he just heard it was heading over to Good Morning America.

“Kelly is the nicest person I think I’ve ever met,” Kimmel said.

Live’s guests on Monday were Gordon Ramsay, Quantico‘s Priyanka Chopra, and the band American Authors.