Ryan Seacrest out, Mark Consuelos in at 'Live': A history of the show's co-hosts

Ryan Seacrest is leaving Live — and Mark Consuelos will be taking the chair next to wife Kelly Ripa. We look at the history of co-hosts. (Photos: Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest is leaving Live — and Mark Consuelos will be permanently taking the chair next to wife Kelly Ripa next week. We look at the show's history of co-hosts and how they got along. (Photos: Getty Images)

Kelly Ripa's Live co-host is changing again. Ryan Seacrest's last day on the nationally syndicated talk show, after six years of hosting, was Friday. His permanent replacement, Mark Consuelos, Ripa's husband of 26 years and a frequent show sub, starts on Monday.

See how Ryan Seacrest said goodbye on final 'Live With Kelly and Ryan'

Seacrest announced he was leaving in February, calling it a "tough" decision to depart the show he joined in 2017. He said working alongside Ripa, whom he called "an amazing partner, friend and confidant," has been "a dream job and one of the highlights of my career."

Seacrest hosted a farewell dinner for the Live staff days before his exit.

Ripa told People magazine this week that hosting the show with her husband is "going to be off the rails!" Consuelos said in the same interview that they're "super, super grateful."

With Seacrest out and Consuelos in, we look back at the evolution of Live co-hosts — the allies and the adversaries — since its inception in 1983.

Regis Philbin & Kathie Lee Gifford (Live with Regis and Kathie Lee)

Live actually began as The Morning Show in 1983. It was local, in New York, and Philbin co-hosted with Cyndy Garvey, whom he previously worked with on A.M. Los Angeles. She departed in 1984, and Ann Abernathy was her replacement. The future Kathie Lee Gifford, who then went by Kathie Lee Johnson, became the replacement for the replacement in 1985 — and the show took off in its market. It made its national syndication debut on September 5, 1988 — with the noted title change to Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.

The co-hosts had a friendly relationship — she famously called him "Reege" — and a husband and wife kind of banter. He said in 1988, that everything on TV at the time seemed "written or over-rehearsed" and there was nobody chatting about "the smaller things in life that everybody goes through, like visits from your mother-in-law or the kids bringing home stray cats."

Kathy Lee Gifford, shown July 28, 2000 with co-host Regis Philbin during her final appearance on the
Kathy Lee Gifford, shown July 28, 2000 with co-host Regis Philbin during her final appearance on Live with Regis and Kathy Lee. (Photo: Getty Images) (Reuters Photographer / reuters)

The pair worked together until Gifford departed the show in 2000 — and they had a lasting friendship after. Gifford told AARP the Magazine in 2019, "I knew it was the beginning of something huge because I met my doppelgänger when I met Regis. I met my creative equal." They weathered a lot together too because Gifford became a tabloid target and saw a lot of gossip about her and her marriage to Frank Gifford, who she said "I do" to in 1986, smeared around.

When Gifford left the Today show in 2019, Philbin was a surprise guest and told her on-air, "Kathie Lee ... the best part of my life, my TV life, was in the 15 years I spent with you from 1985 to 2000. We stayed friends through the entire game, and it was a lot of fun."

Gifford saw Philbin just prior to his death and toldToday in 2020, "In all the years together we never had one cross word. We had the same sense of humor, and we just took off like a rocket … we just wanted to sit there and have fun together."

Regis Philbin & Kelly Ripa (Live with Regis and Kelly)

After Gifford's departure, Philbin hosted solo as a search for a replacement was underway. He won his first daytime Emmy for his work as a solo host. (The same year, he also won for Outstanding Game Show Host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.) But it was time to pick a partner and a plucky one who stole the spotlight was soap opera star Ripa, who had a huge fandom on All My Children for her love story with her real-life husband, Consuelos. During one of her on-air auditions in 2000, a psychic rightly predicted Ripa was pregnant live on air — she admitted she secretly was — and she seemed like a lock after that.

Ripa, who was officially hired in 2001, breathed new life into the show — introducing a younger audience to daytime TV — and seemed to go along playing Philbin's foil. He'd be exasperated by his young co-star stories, at times, and would even make faces, but it seemed playful enough.

385178 01: Talk show host Regis Philbin and new co-host Kelly Ripa speak to the audience during a broadcast of
Regis Philbin and new co-host Kelly Ripa during a broadcast of Live with Regis and Kelly on February 5, 2001. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Newsmakers) (Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

Ripa said at the time that Philbin's style was to keep all their exchanges on the air to keep their conversation fresh. However, she later got candid, including in her 2022 book Live Wire, that she didn't feel like he wanted here there as a co-host. She claimed he referred to her as "it" to her face, and complained to higher-ups that he didn't want her bringing an entourage to the set (of one hair and one makeup person, which isn't really an entourage). There was also a to-do over her name having to be in a smaller font in the show logo and materials. Nonetheless, they were popular for viewers and won Emmys together — for Outstanding Talk Show Host — in 2011 and 2012.

Ripa told Yahoo in September it was "a great privilege" to have worked alongside the TV icon, but admitted "it was not an easy working relationship" because he felt she was "forced upon" him as a co-host.

Philbin left Live in November 2011, after marking 10 years as co-hosts. When he made his retirement announcement on-air, he famously did so without giving Ripa a head's up. Her reaction was the real deal.

In the years after, they didn't have the enduring friendship that he had with Gifford. While he returned to the show, a narrative, in Ripa's words, that she "abandoned our friendship" developed in the media. It was propelled by Philbin himself in interviews — like when he said in 2015, "I don't see her" anymore when Ripa claimed she actually saw him one day earlier and they spoke. In 2017, he said Ripa "got very offended when I left." She said she didn't correct the record at the time, doing so later in her book.

"I just find it baffling," she told Yahoo. "I mean we all work with lots of people and some people we have friendships with outside of the office and some people we don't and that's OK. But to pin the responsibility of that on one person?"

When Ripa's book came out, Gifford defended Philbin, who had died two years earlier, and said she'd never read it.

Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan (Live with Kelly and Michael)

After Philbin's exit, Ripa also had a period where she hosted the show herself while doing another big search for a replacement. Strahan, who retired from the New York Giants in 2007 and transitioned into broadcasting, landed the gig in September 2012.

The pair had chemistry, they got good ratings — and, yes, more Emmys. They won for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host in 2015 and 2016.

LIVE WITH KELLY - Michael Strahan is Kelly's co-host on LIVE WITH KELLY, 2/8/11, airing in more than 200 markets across the country and distributed by Disney-Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Domestic Television. (Photo by Sandy SooHoo/Disney-Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images Domestic TV via Getty Images)
Michael Strahan was announced as Kelly Ripa's Live co-host in 2012. (Photo: Getty Images Domestic TV via Getty Images) (Sandy SooHoo via Getty Images)

In late April 2016, things went sideways when Strahan announced on-air — on a day that Ripa was off — that he would be leaving the show to host Good Morning America on the same network. Ripa was reportedly "blindsided" by the news and abruptly took a few extra days off work to process it. She returned, addressing Strahan's departure candidly, explaining the necessity of "communication, consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace." His exit, which was to be months down the line, was moved up to May 13.

In 2020, Strahan opened up about his "mishandled" departure. He made it clear Live wasn't his dream job, saying he didn't know he was hired to be "a sidekick." However, "I didn't wake up and say, 'I want a job at GMA. I was asked to do it by the people who run the network. It was really not a choice. It was a request." He said it "was treated as if I ... walked in and said, 'I'm leaving.' That part was totally misconstrued, mishandled in every way. People who should have handled it better have all apologized, but a lot of the damage had already been done. For me, it was like: Move on. Success is the best thing. Just keep on moving." As for Ripa, he said he wasn't holding a grudge, "People think, 'Oh, he hates her' — I don't hate her. I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job."

That same year, Ripa said, “I didn't kick up a fuss; it wasn't a big thing; I was just like, I'm not doing this. If I'm not worthy of a discussion, if I'm not worthy of you running this conversation by me — it was outrageous."

Ripa did not mention Strahan in her book, which spoke volumes.

Kelly Ripa & Ryan Seacrest (Live with Kelly and Ryan)

Ripa again did the job solo until her replacement was announced, as Seacrest, in May 2017.

While Seacrest has had no shortage of jobs — and usually many at once — he initially reached out to Ripa, a friend, about working together when Philbin announced his retirement. It obviously didn't work then — with Strahan grabbing the gig — but they got a second chance a few years later.

Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest (Photo: Live/ABC)
Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest have been co-hosts of the show since 2017. (Photo: Live/ABC)

Seacrest is obviously no novice and slipped right into the role. Their on-screen relationship has always been friendly and respectful. It carried over off-camera with the pair vacationing together with their partners and doing things when the cameras weren't rolling, especially because Seacrest relocated to New York for the job.

"We've known each other for over 20 years and had been attempting to work together for all of those 20 years," Ripa told Yahoo. "We're very similar in the way we do things. We're family people. We're close with our parents. We grew up not in show business households... When the opportunity arose and Ryan was available, it seemed like a no-brainer."

In 2020, Seacrest had a health scare that resulted in him deciding to "slow down" amid all his jobs, also including hosting American Idol. And while he took it down a notch after — still hosting and producing other projects — he announced on Feb. 16, 2023 that he decided last year that this current would be his last.

After announcing his departure on air, he posted a sweet tribute to Ripa, saying he was going to "miss my work wife and all the laughter we share."

"When I signed on to host Live in 2017 it was meant to be for 3 years, but I loved the job and working with Kelly so much that I extended my time and last year I made the decision to stay on for one more final season," he said. "I've been grateful to be able to share a cup of coffee with our viewers everyday, one of the best parts of the gig." He added that he looked forward to coming back to guest host and gave "my brother Mark" the OK "to remodel my dressing room."

Ripa said she was "so grateful to have spent the last six years beside my dear friend of too many decades to count and will miss starting my days with Ryan. Ryan's energy, passion and love for entertainment is one of a kind."

The pair won the Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host in 2019. Their show has been the top-rated daytime talk show in the women ages 25 to 54 category for more than a year.

Seacrest's last show aired on April 14, 2023.

Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos (Live with Kelly and Mark)

Consuelos's hubby, and former soap co-star has long occupied the co-host seat. He's filled in not just during the pandemic, but over the years when Ripa's co-host was out and he wasn't away shooting Riverdale or his acting projects.

The pair has tried-and-true chemistry, which we've seen, and no shortage of funny stories to tell about family.

While their three kids are all grown up — they're on-off empty nesters — they still have hilarious tales of their interactions and awkward moments. Expect some thirsty moments between the couple as well.

When we spoke to Ripa last year, she said while it was "the privilege of my life to host Live," she had been giving thought to retiring from the morning show, which she also wrote about in her book. She said it would be nice to help someone new into the job, "because it is special," and then assist that person as they "navigate the pitfalls of the spotlight," which she could have used more help with when she started.

However, that's off the table now that she can share the job with her husband, who she told us "had to make a lot of sacrifices" as she hosted Live for the last 22 years and he took acting projects elsewhere, including living in other countries at times.

Consuelos makes his debut as co-host on April 17.

This story was originally published on February 17, 2023 at 9:49 a.m. ET and has been updated with new information.