Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kelly & (Her New) Company

Time was, Michael Strahan was spending Sundays trying to sack quarterbacks and planting them into the turf.

Now he'll spend weekday mornings trying to sack the talk show competition.

If the folks who produce Kelly Ripa's weekday gab fest were looking for a drastic change from the retired Regis Philbin as co-host, they couldn't have picked one further from the Regis spectrum by tabbing Strahan, the former New York Giants defensive lineman.

Strahan couldn't look more different than Regis, number one. Strahan is 40 and black, and huge. Regis was 79 when he retired, is white, and is far from a big man.

Strahan has been honing his skills as an on-air personality for the past several years as one of the talking heads on Fox NFL Sunday, partnering with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Curt Menefee.

Now Strahan takes the seat next to Ripa, who has been in search of a permanent co-host for over a year.

Apparently show execs liked the chemistry between Ripa and Strahan, and if that show is about anything, it's about synergy between co-hosts.

Guests come on and are interviewed, but the chats are breezy and the questions softball in nature, which is fine. There are plenty of other places to see guests get grilled and squirm.

The new show is called Live! With Kelly and Michael.


Ripa and her new co-host


No doubt Ripa had to approve the new co-host, and her stamp for Strahan may strike some as surprising, but on Fox's football show, Strahan was probably the most "real" of his counterparts---certainly the only one without some sort of shtick or gimmick---unless you want to count his gap-toothed smile, which has also worked for a certain late-night TV host.

Strahan is a "what you see is what you get" kind of a guy---a big, smiling teddy bear on camera, and since the show's audience is overwhelmingly female, that plays well with viewers.

Ripa reportedly auditioned 59 people for the job that Strahan landed. He debuted today, and Ripa instantly brought Strahan's size to the fore as he walked onto the set.

"It's so nice to have a co-host literally sweep you off your feet," Ripa said on the air. "I know that he can bench press me if he wanted to."

If size matters, Michael Strahan will do just fine.

No offense, Reege!

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