Michael Strahan may be ABC's superhero, but the personality who’s really indispensable in the very strange world of Daytime Television is the peerless Kelly. Yes, Kelly Ripa
Let's talk TV today - daytime TV, to be specific.
Now, before you ask what daytime TV has to do with movies, I hasten to note that there are no longer any barriers that separate the various arts from each other or from the assorted media (including, and especially, social media). And on daytime TV, it's all one giant mash-up of bold-faced names, film clips, tie-ins, name-dropping and shameless self-promotion.
It's also - except for a quartet of exceptions - dated, repetitious and as depressing as hell. You have ABC's solitary soap, "General Hospital," which has been an unwatchable mess for about a decade now; the network's "The View," which should be put out of its misery (and misery is indeed the operative word here) and CBS's antiquated game shows "The Price Is Right" and "Let's Make a Deal" where, with scant encouragement, the contestants are more than happy to behave like hapless buffoons.
And so, it came as no surprise that the The 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (scheduled for May 1st ) would not be televised this year. I mean, really, how often can one watch the same game shows, the same talk shows and the same soaps win awards that interest no one?
BTW, there are currently only four soap operas remaining on daytime TV and guess how many of them have been nominated this year.
That's right - all four, only one of which is notable.
That would be CBS's "The Young and the Restless," one of the aforementioned four exceptions that make daytime TV bearable and a top TV drama in general (although it is currently being overseen by refugees from the unfortunate "General Hospital," a reason for pause).
The other three are CBS's "The Talk" (despite the fact its five co-hosts, all incredibly personable, have taken it on themselves to do non-stop damage control for spoiled celebrities who pay people to do exactly that for them); Rachel Ray's fabulous food-and-talk show on ABC, and, in a class all by itself, "Live with Kelly and Michael," also on ABC. ("Rachel" and "Live" are both Disney-syndicated but air on ABC channels exclusively.)
The Kelly and Michael of the title are, of course, the peerless Kelly Ripa and the ever-surprising Michael Strahan, a former NFL star who has evolved into an unexpectedly pleasing TV personality - so much so that ABC has elected to remove Strahan from "Live" and situate him on its more valuable morning show, "Good Morning, America," which is arguably the definitive mash-up of all those ingredients listed in the second paragraph here (plus some sociopolitical news for legitimacy).
Strahan has been a twice-a-week contributor on GMA, starting there approximately the same time he joined "Live," where he replaced Regis Philbin. The pairing of Kelly and Michael, which seemed wildly off-beat on paper, turned out to beterrific - a match of perfection.
According to Wikipedia, after Strahan teamed with Ripa, "ratings instantly surged, impressively generating year-over-year time slot gains across all key demographics, towering over its nearest competition, the fourth hour of NBC's 'Today Show,' by 87 percent." As it is with Wikipedia, I'm not exactly sure who wrote this impressive info/blurb, possibly a Strahan assistant. Anyway, ABC apparently took note and, shortly after his debut on "Live," Strahan joined GMA for occasional weekly appearances.
Since then, Strahan has been seemingly everywhere and dabbling in seemingly everything. He has an eponymous men's clothing line and a motivational book, "Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life"; he's been the spokesperson for the P&G Meta products; and his other TV work includes his role as a FOX NFL Sunday analyst and the host of the upcoming ABC (yes, ABC) game-show reboot, "The $100,000 Pyramid," airing this summer. Have I missed anything?
So his ascension to a top spot on GMA is just the latest stride for Michael Strahan and, while no one would begrudge his apparently unquenchable ambition, the circumstances surrounding this latest move seem dubious at best. It's great that Strahan is going to GMA and terrible that he's leaving "Live." What's disturbing in the secrecy about the move - so secret that reportedly (if one is to believe reports) not even Ripa or (reportedly) "Live" producer Michael Gelman knew about it until it was announced by an ABC honcho, James Goldston, president of its news division.
And one would think that Ripa and Gelman, of all people, deserved the courtesy of a heads-up at the very least. Strahan's stock has risen largely because of "Live" in general and his chemistry with Ripa in particular.
Strahan has been admired for his accessible "everyguy" demeanor and I guess ABC is counting on that quality to help GMA as it struggles to surmount its rival, NBC's "Today Show," which has snapped up the "people between 25 and 54" demographic so valued by advertisers.
But the questionable way this has been handled, the perceived deception, is not something that viewers associate with Strahan's "brand." (Full disclosure: Having worked for newspapers for an unhealthy number of years, I'm accustomed to overpaid people making bad decisions.)
This could be potentially damaging.
As for Kelly Ripa, I have every confidence that she will do just fine. She has that rare ability to pair up perfectly with just about everyone, not just Michael Strahan, as evidence by the revolving-door of guys who auditioned for the seat that Strahan successfully won four years ago and who have replaced him during his days off. Plus, unlike many of her co-hosts (Strahan included), Ripa is quick on her feet and a natural comic. And she's immensely likable. I guess what I'm saying is, she's perfect.
Or at least, the perfect TV host. And on morning TV, she's like a tonic.
She's also a pro, a top professional. But even a pro can be pushed too far. And so it came as no surprise that, the day after Goldston's big Strahan announcment, Kelly was absent from today's "Live" telecast. Ana Gasteyer filled in. She was competent. But she's no Kelly Ripa.
Michael Strahan will be easy to replace - I have no doubt about that - but "Live" is unthinkable without Kelly. And so, the next time ABC and Goldston are looking to clandestinely snare someone away from an ABC syndicated show, I suggest that they aim higher (read: Kelly Ripa).