Kelly Ripa Returns to 'Live'

Kelly Ripa returned to Live with Kelly and Michael on Tuesday, as expected, and simultaneously made light of and spoke honestly about the situation.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” she quipped, as the in-studio audience rose to a standing ovation. “I am fairly certain there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drive too far off message."

Ripa took two days off — last Wednesday and Thursday before heading off on a planned long weekend — after learning just before the announcement went wide last Tuesday that her cohost, Michael Strahan, would be leaving to join Good Morning America in September. 

Related: Michael Strahan Leaving 'Live' for 'Good Morning America'

After ABC executives — including ABC Owned Stations chief Rebecca Campbell, ABC News chief James Goldston and WABC president and GM Dave Davis — apologized to her, she sent an email to staff on Friday night, saying she needed time to process Strahan’s departure and how informing her was handled and assuring them that she would be back on Tuesday. 

Related: Kelly Ripa to be Off 'Live' Through Monday

Strahan stood aside while Ripa thanked viewers for their overwhelming show of love and support “during this bizarre time.”

Ripa also referred to why she didn’t come to work in the first place: because she didn’t feel respected by ABC leadership. “What has transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary, in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and most importantly, respect in the workplace,” she said.

“And let’s be honest,” she said to the audience, “I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other.” 

Ripa also assured viewers that Live is a priority for ABC. As a result of this flap, rumors again popped up that ABC wants to expand Good Morning America to a third hour. The network says no such plans are in the works at this time, and it’s not easy to do, considering other network and syndication commitments.

Related: After Strahan-Ripa Rift, 'Live''s Demise or 'GMA''s Expansion Unrealistic

Ripa and Strahan continued to be the professional pair that’s made Live such a success over the past four years, since Strahan arrived in 2012. Ripa congratulated Strahan on his opportunity to move to GMA and said “I couldn’t be prouder of you and everything we’ve accomplished together.”

Strahan returned the good feelings, saying: “You love this show, you love the fans, you love the staff. I love you. I’m so happy you’re here.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997 - September 2002.