It may have taken a year, but the search is finally over! Ryan Seacrest is Kelly Ripa’s new co-host, the duo revealed on Monday’s episode of Live.
“It’s funny because Kelly and I are friends — we’ve known each other for a long time,” said Seacrest, joining Ripa at the Live table. “I could not be more excited.”
Ripa and Seacrest joked about how they hid the news from the public and cut to video of Seacrest hiding in a car as he pulled up to the studio Monday. “We don’t call it a secret anymore in my house — we call it a Seacrest,” riffed Ripa, who revealed that their families knew about the news.
Seacrest also tweeted about the news, writing, “So excited to join this show!! @KellyRipa crushes every morning… one of my favorite people ever.”
CNN was first to report the new deal prior to the official announcement. As an experienced emcee, Seacrest scored plenty of hosting experience at the helm of American Idol for 15 seasons before it ended in 2016.
According to CNN, Seacrest will split his time between New York City and Los Angeles, taping episodes of the show for the first four days of the week (including Friday’s pre-taped episode) before returning to the West Coast. The ABC building housing the Live studio will also reportedly include a studio where Seacrest can continue to host his syndicated radio shows for iHeartMedia.
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Ripa teased the announcement in a Twitter video on Sunday, taking a sip from a Live with Kelly mug bearing a big question mark on it. “We’re going to need a bigger mug,” the tweet read.
Since Michael Strahan’s departure from Live last May, the show has featured a number of guest hosts, including Fred Savage and Jerry O’Connell as well as Ripa’s close friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. The need for a new co-host came roughly a year ago when Strahan announced that he would be departing their morning show after four years to co-host Good Morning America. The news caught Ripa by surprise, prompting her to take the next four days off before returning to the show the following Tuesday.
“I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company, I earned the right,” said Ripa upon her return. “What transpired over the last couple of 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 has been a part of the show for 16 years, having first joined as a replacement for Kathie Lee Gifford when Regis Philbin was still co-hosting the ABC morning show in 2001.