Kelly Ripa returns to 'Live!': 'Our long national nightmare is over'

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"LIVE with Kelly and Michael": Kelly's Return

Kelly Ripa returned to Live! With Kelly and Michael on Tuesday, a week after she learned -; following the taping of last Tuesday's show -; that her co-host Michael Strahan would be leaving for a full-time job on Good Morning America.

Ripa has been absent from the popular daytime show since April 19; Ana Gasteyer, Erin Andrews and Shay Mitchell have filled in as guest co-hosts. Ripa's anger over both Strahan's departure and, more significantly, ABC executives not telling her about his planned move until minutes before the news broke, caused her to boycott her own show. While she had a previously scheduled vacation for Friday and Monday, she missed the Wednesday and Thursday episodes of Live! as well.

Ripa walked out with Strahan, holding his hand as normal. But then she took the stage alone to address why she was away.

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Kelly Ripa returns to 'Live!': 'Our long national nightmare is over'
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Kelly Ripa is seen arriving to the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on September 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Kelly Ripa is seen arriving to the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on September 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
WATER MILL, NY - JULY 26: Host Kelly Ripa attends FIJI Water at Super Saturday Co-Hosted by Kelly Ripa and Donna Karan on July 26, 2014 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for FIJI Water)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0082 -- Pictured: (l-r) Television personality Kelly Ripa during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on July 9, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Kelly Ripa is seen on May 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Television personality Kelly Ripa attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/WireImage)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0003 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Kelly Ripa on February 26, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Kelly Ripa attends 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 07: TV personality Kelly Ripa enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on November 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: TV personality Kelly Ripa enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on November 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: Kelly Ripa is seen in Soho on September 3, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kelly Ripa -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kelly Ripa -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are seen in Soho on May 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Kelly Ripa is seen on May 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Kelly Ripa is seen in Midtown on May 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Television personality Kelly Ripa attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: TV Personality Kelly Ripa attends the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Kelly Ripa seen at LAX airport on February 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0003 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Kelly Ripa on February 26, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via 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 - NOVEMBER 19: TV personalities Kelly Ripa (L) 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 - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa, and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 CNN Heroes at American Museum of Natural History on November 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Kelly Ripa arrives for the 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on November 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 11: Kelly Ripa attends Amazon Studios Premiere Screening for 'Alpha House' on November 11, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Kelly Ripa, Joaquin and Lola are seen in Soho on October 31, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Kelly Ripa participates as the Grand Marshall in the New York City 40th Annual Village Halloween parade on October 31, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos arrive at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
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Wearing a sleeveless red pantsuit, Ripa received extended applause and cheering from the Live! audience before joking, "Guys, our long national nightmare is over! I'm fairly certain there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message."

"I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show," she continued. "The love, the show of support through this bizarre time has been overwhelming."

"I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts," Ripa said, explaining her absence. "After 26 years with this company, I earned the right. And to be honest, I know half of you [in the audience] called in sick to be here, so we get each other."

"In that time, I gained some perspective," she continued. "I always speak from the heart. I didn't want to come out here and just say something I regret. What transpired, though, 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."

Read MoreKelly Ripa's Return to 'Live': High Stakes for Everyone Involved

She went on: "I don't consider this just a workplace. This is my second home. This is a place I have devoted myself to, not just because of you, our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team. We are incredibly devoted to one another. We are family. Apologies have been made. The best thing to come out of all of this, guys, is that our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority."

She congratulated Strahan: "I am thrilled for Michael. I am thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity. I and we couldn't be prouder of you and everything we accomplished together."

And then she urged people to get back to business and gave the audience some perspective. "Back to the show, this is entertainment, it's supposed to be entertaining. Let's get back to what we do best and start the show," she said. "My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we're all crazy. I think he's right."

After she joined Strahan at the Live! co-host table, Ripa talked about celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary to husband Mark Consuelos, for which she had taken some of her time off. She clarified that she and Consuelos did have a trip planned despite people thinking they made that up.


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Ripa announced Friday night that she would return to Live! on Tuesday. In a staff email that was leaked to the media, she thanked her colleagues for giving her "the time to process" the "new information" of Strahan leaving.

Read MoreKelly Ripa Says She Will Return to 'Live' on Tuesday

As of Monday morning, Ripa and Strahan hadn't spoken since she learned of his move to GMA, but they had a cordial text-message exchange Saturday, according to a source.

He did, however, seem glad to have her back. Toward the end of their recap of the news, he said he was "truly so happy you're here and happy 20th wedding anniversary." He also repeatedly told her during Tuesday's edition of the show's travel trivia game, "I'm so glad you're back." When the caller got the question about something that happened during last week's show wrong, Ripa joked, "Don't look at me -; I wasn't here!"

Ripa's high-profile absence is the latest chapter in what's become a tense relationship since Strahan started regularly appearing on GMA in 2014, with Ripa feeling like Disney was prioritizing ABC News' GMA over the syndicated Live!, according to a source close to the show. Now, Strahan is concerned he's been cast as the villain, sources close to the former New York Giants star say, while much of the media has portrayed Ripa's reaction as diva-ish.

For his part, Strahan has repeatedly thanked Ripa and shared his appreciation for what he's learned from her as he discussed his move to GMA on that show and Live! during Ripa's absence.

Strahan is expected to stay on Live! through the summer with the daytime show beginning to audition new co-hosts for Ripa in September.

Read MoreOn 'GMA,' Michael Strahan Says He "Learned So Much From" Kelly Ripa


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