The Michael Strahan era has officially ended on "Live! With Kelly And Michael" (which is going to have to get a new name), with the former football star-turned-talk show host signing off on Friday on his last show before leaving for a full-time gig on "Good Morning America."
Co-host Kelly Ripa quipped that it was Friday the 13th, but the hour was mostly a pleasant affair, with Strahan addressing both fans and Ripa directly, and thanking both for their support.
"It's bittersweet," Strahan told the audience. "This is a moment that I didn't anticipate...at least at this point, but I'm going to enjoy it. I'm not dying. I'm still in the family. And I'm going to come back if I'm ever asked to co-host."
Strahan's switch from "Live!" to "GMA" was announced by ABC last month, which apparently came as a huge shock to Ripa, who was reportedly not informed ahead of time about the impending announcement. The hurt host played hooky from "Live!" for a few days to collect her thoughts, but returned with a resolve to start "a much greater conversation about communication and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace."
Despite both Ripa and Strahan putting on brave faces, the awkwardness of his impending departure no doubt weighed heavily on both hosts, and ABC decided to accelerate Strahan's exit date from September to this week. The official reason for the change was to give Ripa and "Live!" more time to find a new co-host.
Friday's episode of "Live!" featured a few tributes to Strahan's tenure on the show, with Ripa presenting him with several gifts and the pair exchanging hugs and kisses. Ripa also shared some sweet words about her departing co-host.
"I just want to say, on behalf of myself and all of us, we couldn't be prouder of you," she told Strahan. "You have given us so much joy in the mornings. ... We've achieved so much together and I look forward to watching you every morning and seeing what you achieve."
Then it was Strahan's turn to speak, thanking the "Live!" crew and Ripa, and noting that his time on the show was "amazing." He also addressed the "Live!" fans directly.
"You guys have let me into your homes for the last few years every day," he said. "I didn't know what to expect...it's been so overwhelming with the response that we've had over the last four years, that you guys have loved this show. It means the world that you give us an hour a day. ... We love you. We appreciate you."
A series of guest hosts will fill in for Strahan this summer while "Live!" searches for a permanent replacement. The first guest will be fellow ABC host Jimmy Kimmel, followed by David Muir, Jussie Smollett, Cedric the Entertainer, Daniel Dae Kim, Fred Savage, Seal, and Andy Cohen.
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