Kelly Ripa returns to 'Live' after Strahan exit debacle

UPDATE: Kelly Ripa returns to her morning talk show after popular co-host Michael Strahan announced he's leaving the show for a full-time job at GMA.  

Photo: AP.  Michael Strahan announced he will be leaving 'Live with Kelly and Michael.'  His last show will be May 13.

UPDATE April 26: “Our long national nightmare is over," said Kelly Ripa, as she addressed her audience and fans during the opening segment of her perennial morning talk show, ABC's Live with Kelly and Michael.  The beloved TV personality returned to her hosting duties after a four-day hiatus, following the exit announcement of her co-host of four years, Michael Strahan.  Strahan, as was reported late last week, will shift to a full-time spot on ABC's Good Morning America.

Ripa faced the controversy head-on, in a stand-alone address to the TV-viewing audience this morning.  She told her fans that she'd "earned the right" to have been treated with more consideration regarding Strahan's exit.  She stated that ABC execs apologized to her for how the situation was handled, and gave her promise that Live is, and will continue to be, a priority for the network.  “There is a commitment to this show and the people that work here and, most importantly, to you the viewers who have watched us every day for 30 years,” Ripa said. 

She also congratulated her co-host on his new gig, exclaiming with ardor that she "couldn’t be prouder" of Strahan and everything they've accomplished together.

Ripa ended her monologue by joking, "My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we’re all crazy.”

Watch her full statement below: 

April 19: Former NY Giant-turned-TV personality Michael Strahan is leaving his Live with Kelly and Michael gig to join Good Morning America, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  Strahan had been appearing twice a week on GMA since 2014.

ABC News president James Goldston reportedly made the announcement in a memo to staff.

Strahan, also an football analyst for Fox, has been a rising star at ABC since he took over for the departing Regis Philbin in 2012.

Of the move, he told The Hollywood Reporter, "I look forward to continuing to work with the incredible team at GMA. It is an exciting opportunity to be able to bring unique stories and voices to the audience.”

He went on to say: “My time with Live With Kelly and Michael has been transformative, and my departure will be bittersweet. Kelly has been an unbelievable partner, and I am so thankful to her and the entire team. I am extremely grateful for the amazing support I've received from all of the fans."

The gossip site TMZ is reporting that the shockingly sudden move was not all Strahan but rather a calculated decision by the higher-ups at ABC. Good Morning America endedThe Today Show’s 16-year chokehold on the morning ratings in 2012 and remains the most-watched morning news program.  However, this season, Today has won back the coveted 25 to 54 demographic and the move to add more Michael into the mix may be a solid strategy call.  Michael has seen his popularity soar with the GMA audience and ABC brass may be hoping to build on that.

TMZ is also reporting that Live co-host Kelly Rippa was floored by the announcement; not surprising as she was also kept in the dark before Regis Philbin announced he was leaving the show after a 28-year run.

For more, check out Regis Philbin telling Larry King why he decided to leave the show:

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