It’s not a done deal yet, that’s only because Kelly Ripa hasn’t made the announcement, but you better believe, Michael Strahan is in the final stages of talks that will officially make him Regis Philbin’s replacement. So much for fans who were routing for Anderson Cooper.
Strahan, 40, a former NFL star and currently a host of “Fox NFL Sunday,” was in negotiations to be named as replacement for Regis Philbin, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak about the negotiations.
Broadcasting & Cable, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, said ABC was expected to announce him as co-host in early September.
There was no confirmation from “Live!” but it had been announced Monday that the new co-host will be introduced Sept. 4 on the show, which is seen in New York at 9 a.m. on WABC/Ch. 7.
TV personalities and other candidates were also reluctant to comment Tuesday on the news, which was first broken by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, pending any official word from Ripa or ABC. Pat Kiernan of New York 1, who had two guest stints with Ripa, said, “It would be disrespectful for me to comment unless something comes from ABC.”
The syndicated weekday show has left Ripa without a permanent co-host since Philbin left the show in November 2011. Since then, she has welcomed 59 guest co-hosts, some of whom, including Strahan, were under consideration for the permanent job. Strahan has made several guest appearances this year.
A spokeswoman for “Live!” declined to comment on Philbin’s replacement.
Even in the diverse world of TV hosting, Strahan stands out. He’s 6-foot-5. He played at 275 pounds. He’s black. He’s got the most famous front-tooth gap since Lauren Hutton, and every so often, in the pearly white world of TV, we need that look.
At the very least, he and the 5-foot-3 Ripa immediately become the most interesting visual couple on television.
For starters, he knows how to use his size. And just because he played football, that doesn’t mean he’s a dumb jock. In fact, quite the opposite.
He also has a disarming ease about him, and while his ex-wife Jean might question that assessment, he’s become as comfortable in front of a TV camera as he was manhandling an offensive tackle.
Those cameras forgive almost any sin if you smile often and broadly enough. Strahan’s got that principle down, and it gives him a gentle-giant demeanor that makes women trust and like him.
That’s a good thing on a show where most of the viewers are women.
It’s a nice bonus that men like him, too, knowing they can say “split end” and he’ll think football, not just hair.
Yet despite Strahan’s size, he doesn’t take up all the oxygen in a room. He’s not Michael Jordan, where all eyes lock in for the duration.
He can sit next to Ripa and it will still be Ripa’s show. She’s the quarterback, and from Strahan’s guest spots it’s clear he understands his role is to let her call most of the plays.
He’s bright enough to comment intelligently on the world, quick enough to throw out a bemused one-liner and smart enough to realize that he doesn’t have to dominate this show to win the game.
He’ll stay on Fox’s Sunday morning NFL show. He’ll still have his own profile.
He also doesn’t turn 41 until November, making him a year younger than Ripa. If this works out, they could be at it for a while – and having a stable team on a show where viewers value comfortable reliability is just one of the many potentially smart parts of this apparent selection.
You could say “Live” auditioned 58 others that didn’t make the cut. Most noteworthy was Anderson Cooper, followed by “Saturday Night Live” funnyman, Seth Meyers, singer, Jose Groban, Pat Kiernan, and Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos.
On Monday, Disney-ABC Domestic Television had said Ripa will officially announce her new partner as he or she joins her on stage for the Sept. 4 broadcast.
Philbin, the original “Live!” host, exited at age 80 after presiding more than 28 years alongside several co-hosts.
Ripa became his on-air partner in 2001.