Oh how Disney did her wrong. Kelly Ripa, 45, is set to return to her show Live with Kelly & Michael Tuesday morning. If you remember, last Tuesday we reported Ripa was dealt a blow as Walt Disney Corp. executives made a lucrative back room deal with co-host Michael Strahan, 44. The deal knocked Ripa to her knees as she had all but hand selected Strahan as her cohost in 2012. The pair has been nothing but ratings gold from the beginning. They won the 2015 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host(s).
According to TMZ, Disney CEO, Bob Iger reportedly called Strahan himself. He asked him to join Good Morning America for a cool $20 million as the show undergoes a remake. Disney currently pays Ripa, 15-year Veteran of Live with Regis & Kelly and Live with Kelly & Michael between $14-$18 million a year. This is a clear example of how women make less than men in the same industry even when they have more experience. It also shows how easily women over 40 get discarded in showbiz. These are two good reasons why Kelly should call off, boycott, fake sick or go on strike tomorrow instead of smiling and hosting. Earlier today Disney execs personally apologized to Ripa over the handling of events. Absent from the personal heartfelt apologies was Disney CEO, Bob Iger.
Strahan is set to leave Live in September leaving Ripa trying to find a new cohost right as fall sweeps begins. According to Hollywood Reporter, Live has been killing it on ratings since Ripa championed for Strahan to be her cohost. She knew exactly what would work and she was right. Live had the largest year-to-year viewership increase of any syndicated talk show the first year he joined her. They were up an impressive 9% in viewers a day. Most importantly, the show improved 15% among the key demographic group of women 25-54, — its highest numbers in six years.
Don’t blame Strahan. Would you turn down $20 million a year? No way! Strahan is being used as a pawn in a ratings grab. Everyone knows the grand prize of morning TV is that coveted spot where Today show continues to beat Good Morning America. Could they finally dominate morning TV with Strahan full time on GMA? I guarantee you GMA would like that 15% increase! Execs at GMA are foaming at the mouth wanting a consistent piece of that pie. Currently Strahan splits time between the two shows so there’s no reason for Strahan fans to watch his segments on GMA because they can watch for a full hour on Live! By removing Live from the equation Strahan fans will have to tune into GMA. Plus with his pull he may be able to bring in big name athletes to GMA first instead of the Today Show.
According to an article by businessinsider.com Paul Tesluk, acting dean of the school of management at the University of Buffalo advised, “The professional thing is to go back to the show and have the side discussions as quickly as you can and as professionally as you can.”
We have no idea what is in her contract but we assume she’s used the last few days to see what her options are regarding working/not working or going on strike. Once Michael leaves, the show will go back to Live with Kelly. If Kelly is on strike then there’s no Michael, no Kelly, no show. That would definitely send a message to Disney.
Andy Cohen, producer, and friend of Ripa’s said it best,
“I can’t get over that he left Live where it was the best show…Live with Kelly and Michael.” He went on to say, “He’s now with five people sitting at that crowded anchor desk. It’s like 18 co-anchors. And here’s my thing – what happens if the ratings don’t go up? … What is going to happen to this sweet man? By then she will have a new cohost. I don’t know. I just don’t see how you leave the greatest job in TV to be one of five people.”
If Kelly shows up Tuesday morning it will be a loss for women everywhere. Somewhere, someone is reading this and rolling their eyes. I’m serious though, it’s not about Michael or about her being a diva. It’s about ABC dismantling her show. They did it because they knew they could get away with it and if she shows up, they did.