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Kelly Ripa teared up as she said goodbye to Ryan Seacrest during their pre-taped last episode of “Live With Kelly and Ryan” Friday morning.
“I just want to say a few words to you. It’s on behalf of myself and all of us — but mostly me,” Ripa said while trying to hold back tears.
“This has, without question, been the fastest six years of my life, and although you and I have been friends for decades and decades, I feel like I’ve gained through this process a younger brother / oldest son.”
Ripa and Seacrest were friends before the multi-hyphenate made his debut on the ABC morning show six years ago, but she credited working together for bringing them even closer.
“I am so grateful that our success together on this show has led to us developing an even closer — yet codependent — relationship,” she said.
The “All My Children” alum grew teary eyed as she compared the Emmy Award-winning host to a “blooming onion.”
“You are layers upon layers of goodness, of kind, of charm, of brilliance, of authenticity and generosity,” Ripa, 52, continued. “Your generosity is unmatched.”
Seacrest’s sister, Meredith, joined the rest of his family and his girlfriend, Aubrey Paige, in the audience and presented him with a video from his niece congratulating him before Ripa shared that he made everyone “fall in love” with him.
“These six years together have been so much fun, and you have made us all fall in love with you,” she shared. “I’ve been in love with you, but now everyone’s in love with you.”
The “American Idol” host left viewers shocked when he announced in February he’d be leaving the talk show and would be replaced by Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos.
“What I plan to do is once ‘American Idol’ starts from Los Angeles later this spring, I’ll head out to the West Coast and host that show,” Seacrest explained of the timeline of his exit, vowing to return “to guest host and fill in” at times.
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Although his departure came as a surprise to the show’s fans, Page Six learned it was a long time coming for those behind-the-scenes given his level of fatigue from balancing multiple projects.
His exhaustion ultimately led to frequent absences from “Live.”
“Some of Ryan’s absences created tension with everyone involved on the show,” an insider told us in February.
“But everyone cares about him and respects him and just wants to make sure he’s OK.”
According to a friend who works with Seacrest, he found the “Live” schedule “punishing” and hated living in New York City, where the show is taped.
“It’s not just ‘Live.’ Ryan has to travel to audition cities for ‘Idol’ — they just went to Hawaii. It’s exhausting,” said another insider.
“It is hard doing ‘Live’ every day. It’s a grueling schedule. There are double tapings and he runs between his radio show and ‘Live.’ He’ll have a 10-minute break and they’ll say, ‘Come and do some one-liners for the radio show.’”
Consuelos, 52, will be the fourth host Ripa has worked with since she joined Regis Philbin on the show in 2001, replacing Kathie Lee Gifford.
Philbin’s last show was in November 2011, and he died at the age of 88 in July 2020.
Former NFL star Michael Strahan then joined Ripa hosting the show from September 2012 until April 2016, when it was announced he would leave “Live” to become a full-time host of “Good Morning America.”
The show went through a number of temporary co-hosts before Seacrest was announced as Strahan’s replacement.
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