KELLY’S ON THE WARPATH

Watch Out, ABC Kelly Ripa’s re­la­tion­ship with ABC be­comes even more strained as she de­mands con­trol

In Touch (USA) - - Tv drama -

The search is on in full force. Since Michael Stra­han left Live With Kelly and Michael on May 13, barely three weeks af­ter he and ABC blind­sided Kelly Ripa with the news that he was tak­ing a new gig with Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, nearly 20 guest hosts have pa­raded through the Live stu­dios as of early June. Lots more are sched­uled to sit next to Kelly in what show ex­ecs are plan­ning as a months-long au­di­tion process to find a per­ma­nent re­place­ment for Michael. “We have to now find another great per­son,” Kelly diplo­mat­i­cally said in May. “I like hav­ing a part­ner. I don’t think it works oth­er­wise. I need some­one sit­ting next to me.” But be­hind the scenes, Kelly is not happy with ABC’S strat­egy and she’s mak­ing that very clear to them. Still an­gry and hurt over how ABC han­dled Michael’s exit, she’s ex­er­cis­ing her power as the search for a new co-host con­tin­ues. “Kelly is mak­ing Live pro­duc­ers ab­so­lutely mis­er­able by de­mand­ing the fi­nal say on who re­places Michael,” ex­plains a net­work in­sider, adding that Kelly, 45, has been shoot­ing down their ideas left and right. “ABC wants to an­nounce Michael’s re­place­ment at the end of the Novem­ber sweeps pe­riod and wants to keep try­ing out these nu­mer­ous co-hosts.” But Kelly doesn’t want to wait that long be­cause it’s more work for her to carry the show with ro­tat­ing guest hosts. Adds the net­work in­sider, “Kelly’s just not on board with the show’s plans.” She even re­jected the idea of bring­ing Regis Philbin back. He and Kelly were co-hosts for 10 years un­til he re­tired in 2011. “ABC sug- gested hav­ing him come back on a tem­po­rary ba­sis,” says the net­work in­sider. “But Kelly shot it down im­me­di­ately. She and Regis aren’t close and she felt ABC was just try­ing to con­tinue to ag­i­tate her.” Regis had a close per­sonal friend­ship with his for­mer co-host Kathie Lee Gif­ford and they re­main friends to this day. But he and Kelly have no off­screen re­la­tion­ship, and last year Regis re­vealed that he hasn’t spo­ken to her since 2011.

Kelly also is op­posed to giv­ing the job to Rob Lowe, who is ex­tremely in­ter­ested, adds the net­work in­sider. She thinks he’s “too much of a pretty boy and not cut out for it.” Her first choice, of course, is her friend An­der­son Cooper, 49, who guest-hosted along­side her on June 1 and 2. “But he’s un­able to make the com­mit­ment un­til af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Plus, he isn’t cer­tain that he wants to be the co-host of a morn­ing talk show.”

Kelly has made waves at ABC by speak­ing out about the whole Michael de­ba­cle. “She gave a very big in­ter­view to a celebrity-friendly mag­a­zine about the scan­dal and didn’t give ABC a heads-up at the time she did it,” says the net­work in­sider. “She didn’t need ABC’S per­mis­sion to do it, but there was def­i­nitely some pas­sive-ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior go­ing on from Kelly.”

Things are about to get worse. “Kelly ex­pects to be given a big pay raise, which just isn’t go­ing to hap­pen,” says the net­work in­sider, who adds ex­ecs be­lieve “there is just no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for it.” ABC is tir­ing of her an­tics. “They could re­place her in no time,” adds the net­work in­sider, not­ing that Kelly’s con­tract is up in 2017. “They aren’t go­ing to be pres­sured into go­ing along with her de­mands.” ◼

STILL BIT­TER “Kelly has threat­ened to go pub­lic again with her griev­ances against the net­work,” says a net­work in­sider. She Nixed Rege and Rob

Regis Philbin, 84, and Rob Lowe, 52, were pitched as re­place­ments, but “Kelly ab­so­lutely hated both ideas,” says the net­work in­sider.

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