How much longer? Tell Kelly when it starts to hurt
- Last Updated: 1:37 PM, May 14, 2012
- Posted: 10:46 PM, May 13, 2012
Regis still keeps in touch.
“He called just last week before he went to China,” said Kelly Ripa. “He made it clear that going to China was Joy’s idea.”
In the green room of the show now called — rather incompletely — “Live With Kelly,” Ripa’s eyes got saucer round, “I miss him everyday.”
It will be exactly six months ago this week that Regis quit the show he had more or less created 30 years ago.
Since then, Kelly has been entertaining a conga line of hopefuls — from under-employed stars like Dana Carvey and Josh Groban to retired football players like Michael Strahan and Jesse Palmer — looking for a second act in their careers.
Hosting a TV show at the same time she is hosting her co-host may seem like a lot of balls to keep in the air. But it has not been that taxing, she insists.
“I’d been preparing for this for nine months,” she says, meaning the time between Regis’ announcement that he was leaving and his final show last November — when, curiously, everyone except Regis cried.
Even the panic of being left in charge of one of morning TV’s most familiar series set in early.
“Regis left the Friday before Thanksgiving, and I was fine,” Kelly says. “I was: ‘We have to get the turkey and the kids are going to be home . . .’
“It was months before that that I went into shock. ‘You’re doing what? You’re going to leave all this?’ ” she says, making a fake-flirty face.
Her biggest fear these days is getting sick. “There’s no one to fill in anymore,” she says. “I cringe when someone next to me sneezes.”
The people who have worked with her since Regis left are surprised at how quickly she has taken charge and her knack for relaxing even the most nervous fill-in.
“She grabbed my arm after host chat in the first commercial break,” said one co-host, who asked not to be named, “and said, ‘You are really good . . . I mean really, really good.’ She’s a pro.”
The flattered co-host might be surprised to discover that she does some variation of that move with nearly every first timer.
“This will be the fastest and easiest hour of your life. I promise,” she whispers to them just before hitting the stage,
The truth is, says Ripa, she will likely have little to say about who Regis’ replacement will be. She has the power to — in an extreme situation — veto a suggestion.
But, in all likelihood, the bosses will come to her dressing room one morning and present her with a final decision — and the search will be over.
“I’ve done this once before from the other side, so you’d think you’d know what it entails,” she says. “But you really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.”
She and Executive Producer Michael Gelman say they know at some point the search will get stale. But the ratings are holding up fine so far, and there is still no rush.
“Do the viewers want to see me ‘date’ forever? Of course not,” Kelly says.
Already, says Gelman, he has started to book guest co-hosts for two or three days in a row so that Kelly does not have to deal with five new faces every week.
“We don’t want to let this play out any longer than it should,” says Gelman.
“Anxious isn’t the right word,” says Ripa searching for an expression. “I’m curious to see where and when the process will end.
“They really don’t change hosts very often around here. Like once every 15 years. So it has to be right.”