Kelly Ripa returned to LIVE with Kelly and Michael on Tuesday, April 26, one week after news broke that her longtime co-host, Michael Strahan, would be leaving the talk show later this year. Kelly was absent from the show for nearly a week and addressed the ongoing gossip about her absence (which in part was a pre-planned vacation with her husband, Mark Consuelos), noting that she wasn't pleased with the way Michael's departure from the show was handled by ABC (she reportedly found out last Tuesday following the show's taping). Using humor and grace, Kelly thanked her fans for their support throughout the incident, and also assured them the show isn't going anywhere.
"Guys, guys, guys. Guys, guys, guys, our long national nightmare is over," Kelly told the audience. "I'm going to be completely honest. I'm fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message. OK. I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show. The show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really — I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts after 26 years with this company, I earned the right and let's be honest: I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other."
Kelly then opened up about how her personal experience on the job has ignited a bigger conversation. "In that time, I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart. I didn't want to come out here and just like say something I might regret," she said. "So 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. And since we're being honest, I don't consider this just a workplace. This is my second home. This is a place that I've 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 and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that LIVE is a priority."
"Guys, calm down. They didn't say anything about Christmas bonuses," she continued, with a nod to the crew who cheered along. "But there is a commitment to this show and that the people that work here and most importantly to you, the viewers, who have watched us every day for 30 years. I am thrilled for Michael. I'm thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity and I couldn't be and we couldn't be prouder of you. And everything we accomplished together. So back to the show, this is entertainment. It's supposed to be entertaining. So let's get back to what we do best and start the show. Oh, wait. Incidentally, I just want to say one thing. My dad who was a bus driver for 30 years thinks we're all crazy. And I think he's right."
Michael, who will be leaving this fall for a full-time role on Good Morning America after joining LIVE in 2012, applauded Kelly. "I'm so happy you're back. And one thing I know about you is you love the show. You love the fans. You love this staff. I love you. And I'm so happy you're here because you brought me here with [Michael] Gelman and this show has — it's been transforming for me. And I know the show lives on," he said. "And I'm so happy you're here because you brought me here with Gelman and this show has — it's been transforming for me. And I know the show lives on because you are the queen of morning television. And it will continue to go. You need me, I'm coming back. And this is entertainment,” Strahan replied. "So with that being said, let's go on with the show, everybody."
Check out some photos of Kelly from one of her visits to the Clubhouse, below.