Good news, morning TV viewers: You can now rest easy at night. The months of fear and uncertainty are over. At long last, a successor has been chosen. Yes, Kelly Ripa will finally get a new permanent co-host to sit beside her on Live!, the long-running morning talk show's producers announced Monday.
Just which lucky person gets to trade rambling anecdotes and oh-so-witty banter each day with the perky blonde spitfire? The show isn't saying, so to find out you'll have to wait until Sept. 4, when the co-host joins Kelly on set. What a tease!
The new season of Live! begins the day before, on Sept. 3. On that day Kelly will host the show solo, no doubt so she can have some fun giving the audience hints about who her new partner will be and create some extra buzz for the next day's show.
It's a canny move by the show's producers not to reveal the person's name just yet. Ever since longtime co-host Regis Philbin retired last November, they've been looking for a replacement. In that time no fewer than 59 temporary co-hosts, male and female, have occupied the chair next to Kelly Ripa, amid rampant speculation about who would snag a permanent spot at the table.
Now, just when viewers might be tired of wondering, the speculation begins anew. Instead of talking about whether Kelly would ever get a new co-host, now it's going to be all about who it is. Two more weeks of free publicity! It's virtually guaranteed that the show's ratings will go up on the day of the new co-host's debut, and probably for at least a few weeks after that, as viewers and TV critics debate whether the show made the right choice.
So, whose name will go after Live! With Kelly and...? Will it be one of the dozens of temps who've sat in with Kelly over the last nine months, or someone completely new and unexpected?
A couple of people can be ruled out right now. Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live, who has hosted with Ripa several times and gotten a fairly favorable reception, has firmly denied rumors that he would take the job. And Ripa herself has put to rest the idea that her husband, Mark Consuelos, might do it.
Besides that, the field is pretty much wide open. About the only thing that seems likely is that it will be a man. Kelly's flirty, bubbly personality works well with a male counterpart to play off of, and the chemistry between two women would probably give the show a decidedly different tone.
What's your guess as to who will show up next to Kelly on Sept. 4?
Photo: Keith Wills via Wikimedia