Kelly Ripa's return to 'Live': High stakes for everyone involved

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Kelly Ripa Will Return to Co-Host 'Live!' With Michael Strahan

What will Kelly Ripa say?

That's the big question being discussed throughout the daytime television community since Ripa revealed Friday she will be back on Live with Kelly and Michael Tuesday morning after a high-profile sick-out. How her return is handled could have ramifications for ABC and its two morning franchises Good Morning America and Live, for Ripa herself and for her co-host Michael Strahan.

Insiders expect Ripa to acknowledge her unscheduled absence from the show but ultimately offer an olive branch to Strahan, who will depart Live this summer for a full-time job at GMA. Ripa's anger over Strahan's departure and, more significantly, over ABC executives keeping her in the dark about it until minutes before the news broke April 19, caused her to boycott her own show last week. Sources say Ripa and Strahan have not spoken since Strahan informed her he will join GMA in September. But they had a cordial exchange of text messages on Saturday, according to one source, In a Friday night email to the Live staff that judiciously was leaked to the media, Ripa thanked her colleagues for giving her "the time to process" the "new information" of Strahan's impending departure.

See photos of Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan together:

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Michael Strahan & Kelly Ripa
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Kelly Ripa's return to 'Live': High stakes for everyone involved
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: TV personalities Michael Strahan (L) and Kelly Ripa attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 12: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the ceremony honoring Kelly Ripa with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 12, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Luke Skywalker and Kelly Ripa as Princess Leia Organa attend the Hallowe'en photocall for Live! with Kelly and Michael on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Left Shark and Kelly Ripa as Katy Perry on the Super Bowl Halftime Show attend a photocall outside the Live! with Kelly and Michael Studios on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 12: Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa and Michael Gelman attend the ceremony honoring Kelly Ripa with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 12, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa attend the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF15/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Hosts Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa pose for a photo at the 'Live With Kelly & Michael' Halloween Show at Live with Kelly And Michael Studio on October 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Kelly Ripa (L) and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 CNN Heroes at the American Museum of Natural History on November 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Event host Anderson Cooper, and TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute at The American Museum of Natural History on November 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: (L-R) TV personality Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the Broadcasting And Cable 23rd Annual Hall Of Fame Awards dinner at The Waldorf Astoria on October 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -9/5/13 - Arsenio Hall and Jennifer Hudson are guests on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by David Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL - 8/1/13 - Bryan Cranston and Poppy Montgomery are guests on the syndicated talk show, 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Rob Tannenbaum/ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/12/13 - Kevin James is a guest on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/11/13 - Salma Hayek is a guest on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN,
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/9/13 - 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -5/1/13 - 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -2/26/13 - Using chopsticks to arrange their smiles, Kelly and Michael try out the latest stress-relieving smile therapy, on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -1/25/12 - LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09: 'Live With Kelly And Michael' hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the Kids' Night on Broadway 2013 press conference at August Wilson Theatre on January 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)
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Read More: Kelly Ripa Says She Will Return to 'Live' on Tuesday

However the on-air reunion unfolds, both Ripa and Strahan have a lot at stake. Sources close to Strahan say he has been concerned he has been cast as the villain in the situation, while much of the media has portrayed Ripa's reaction as diva-ish.

There actually has been tension between the two popular Live hosts for some time, at least since 2014, when Strahan took a part-time gig at GMA. Ripa was told at the time that it would be temporary. But ABC News executives made no secret of their desire to have Strahan on GMA more than twice a week.

GMA is in need of a chemistry adjustment; the show's ratings have dropped double digits this season among the 25-54 demographic and more critically among female demos, falling behind longtime rival Today on NBC. ABC News generated $362 million in ad revenue from GMA last year, according to KantarMedia, so its reinvigoration is a top priority of DIsney-ABC Television chief Ben Sherwood.

Read More: Kelly Ripa Could Lose Her 'Live' Timeslot In Addition to Her Co-Host

Strahan, 44, is seen as filling the void left by Josh Elliott, part of the GMA team that dethroned Today in 2012 until Elliott left for NBC. So the persona the former NFL star has developed with the daytime audience during his four years on Live is critical. Further attention on Ripa's displeasure over his promotion to GMA could damage that delicate relationship with viewers at a time he needs them most. Strahan, says one daytime veteran, "has a one-to-one relationship with the audience. His appearances on GMA won't be as personal with the audience as it was on Kelly and Michael. That show is a different relationship with the viewer."

See photos of Kelly Ripa through the years:

39 PHOTOS
Kelly Ripa through the years
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Kelly Ripa's return to 'Live': High stakes for everyone involved
385178 05: New co-host Kelly Ripa poses for a photograph during a broadcast of 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' February 5, 2001 in New York City. Ripa, who is known for her role on ABC's soap opera 'All My Children' replaces Kathie Lee Gifford who left the show in July 2000. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)
385178 12: Talk show host Regis Philbin and new co-host Kelly Ripa speak to the audience during a broadcast of 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' February 5, 2001 in New York City. Ripa, who is known for her role on ABC's soap opera 'All My Children' replaces Kathie Lee Gifford who left the show in July 2000. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)
Actress Kelly Ripa arrives at the Entertainment Weekly Academy Awards Viewing Party at Elaine's In New York City. 3/25/01 Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect
387734 26: Talk show host Kelly Ripa and her husband attend the 'VH1 Divas Live' April 10, 2001 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Gerge De Sota/Newsmakers)
Kelly Ripa arrives with her son Michael and husband Mark Consuelos at the New York premiere of the new Disney film 'Atlantis: The Lost Empire' at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. 6/6/01 Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images
389548 11: (FILE PHOTO) Kelly Ripa and Michael Joseph arrive at the Daytime Emmy Awards May 18, 2001 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Ripa, co-host of 'Live with Regis and Kelly' gave birth to an 8-pound 3-ounce baby girl named Lola Grace at 6:30 a.m. June 16, 2001 at a New York City hospital. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)
398342 03: Talk show host Kelly Ripa attends the Coalition of Italo-American Association's 18th annual Leadership Awards Banquet December 7, 2001 at The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New york City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)
405362 06: Talk show host Kelly Ripa arrives for the Style and Substance Awards May 14, 2002 in New York City. The fundraising dinner is to honor women who have made the transition from welfare to the workforce. (Photo by Keith Bedford/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 8: Actress Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos attend the Sean John Fall/Winter 2003 Men's Collection fashion show at Cipriani 42nd Street during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week February 8, 2003 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 11: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) TV Host Kelly Ripa attends MCC Theaters' opening night of 'Intrigue With Faye' after-party at West Bank Cafe June11, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 19: Actress/talk show host Kelly Ripa appears on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' on January 19, 2004 at the NBC Studios, in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 26: TV Personality Kelly Ripa attends the 16th Annual Women of the Year Luncheon on October 26, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 8: Actress Kelly Ripa arrives at the Glamour Magazine 2004 'Women of the Year' awards at the American Museum of Natural History November 8, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 10: Actress Kelly Ripa attends a special screening of Miramax's 'The Great Raid' at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum August 10, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - JULY 30: Kelly Ripa and Lola Grace Consuelos arrive at the InStyle Magazine and Donna Karan Present Super Saturday event July 30, 2005 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 6: Daytime talk show hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa arrive to the 2005 IRTS Foundation Awards at the Waldorf Astoria on October 6, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: Kelly Ripa attends the Angel Ball 2005 on November 14, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 9: Actress Kelly Ripa arrives for a taping of 'The Late Show With David Letterman' at The Ed Sullivan Theater on November 9, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Wintrow/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Actors Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos attend the play opening night of 'The Little Dog Laughed' at Second Stage Theatre January 9, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 02: Television personality Kelly Ripa walks the runway at the Red Dress Fall 2007 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in the Tent in Bryant Park February 2, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images For IMG)
NEW YORK - MARCH 22: Actress Kelly Ripa and husband actor Mark Consuelos arrive for opening night of 'Curtains' on Broadway at the Hirschfeld Theatre, March 22, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - APRIL 14: Host Kelly Ripa speaks onstage during the 5th Annual TV Land Awards held at Barker Hangar on April 14, 2007 in Santa Monica, California. The 5th Annual TV Land Awards show will premiere on TV Land network on Sunday, April 22, 2007. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
US actress and television talk show host Kelly Ripa (R) poses with Santa Claus as she unveils French luxury shop Cartier's Christmas windows along Fifth Avenue in New York, November 24, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 18: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos attend the 69th Annual American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala at The Metropolitan Opera House on May 18, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 28: TV personality Kelly Ripa attends the 10th Annual Trevor New York Summer Gala on June 28, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 29: Kelly Ripa attends the celebration of Electrolux's new stand-alone refrigerator and freezer at Studio 450 on June 29, 2010 in New York City. TV personality Kelly Ripa teams up with Stephen Bruce, owner and founder of Serendipity 3, to build banana splits for a cause. When people visit www.kelly-confidential.com and build a virtual banana split, Electrolux donates $1 to ovarian cancer research. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Weber Shandwick)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: (L-R) TV personality Kelly Ripa and athlete Mark Consuelos attend the premiere of 'Off the Rez' during the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theater on April 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: (L-R) TV personality Kelly Ripa and Chef Tom Colicchio prepare recipes in the kitchen during the presentation of Kelly Ripa, Tom Colicchio & Electrolux Dial Down The Drama Of Last-Minute Entertaining at Center 548 on May 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Electrolux)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Kelly Ripa attends a press conference on Regis Philbin's departure from 'LIVE! with Regis and Kelly' at ABC Studios on November 17, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa attend a press conference on Regis's departure from 'LIVE! with Regis and Kelly' at ABC Studios on November 17, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Fly girls / dancers Michelle Whitney Morrison, Lisa Marie Todd, Kelly Ripa, Deidre Lang and Laurie Anne Gibson attend the 10th Annual TV Land Awards at the Lexington Avenue Armory on April 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Kelly Ripa attends the 'Men In Black 3' New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre on May 23, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos attend the Unicef SnowFlake Ball at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Kelly Ripa arrives at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO/ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ (Photo credit should read ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Kelly Ripa visits 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center on November 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: Actress Kelly Ripa attends the Tenth Annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for UNICEF)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: TV personalities Michael Strahan (L) and Kelly Ripa attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Actress Kelly Ripa attends the VIP Red Carpet Suite hosted by Ketel One Vodka at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York on May 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ketel One)
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At the same time, Ripa, 45, is an important asset at ABC, so the network very much wants this situation to blow over and to proceed in finding her a new co-host. Her contract extends into next year, multiple sources tell THR, while Live has been renewed through the 2019-20 season. Ripa could look to leave the show for another opportunity but observers say few outlets would pay her the $20 million or so per year she reportedly makes. Ripa and Strahan, through reps, declined to comment, as did ABC News.

In short, both Ripa and Strahan have developed loyal followings that they know they need to keep. Prolonging this drama doesn't help either of them. Playing nice for the next four months serves both their interests.

Read More: On 'GMA,' Michael Strahan Says He "Learned So Much From" Kelly Ripa

ABC executives, of course, have the most to lose if this rocky transition becomes rockier. Sources say Sherwood, ABC News chief James Goldston and their teams are cognizant the way the news was broken to Ripa -; Strahan told her after the April 19 show wrapped, causing her to feel blindsided -; could have been managed more deftly. Rebecca Campbell, president of ABC's owned stations and ABC Daytime, has been spearheading the network's effort to get things back on track. Based in Burbank, she is said to have worked through the weekend and arrived in New York Sunday night in preparation for the Live shows this week. Campbell had direct oversight of Live when she was general manager of WABC, the New York ABC station that produces Live.

The ABC executives are confident the focus on the behind-the-scenes drama will fade if Live returns to business as usual. That process could start in earnest with whatever Ripa says on Tuesday.

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