Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa on the set of the new 'Live with Kelly and Michael" on Tuesday in New York (Photo: Charles Sykes, AP)
(USA TODAY) Regis Philbin was finally, officially replaced this morning by NFL star Michael Strahan.
"For the last time as a single lady, please welcome Kelly Ripa," said the announcer on Live! with Kelly as the show opened.
"It's an exciting day around here," said Ripa, standing in front of her desk with two empty chairs. "Nine months and I'm about to give birth to my co-host," she said. After 200 shows and 59 guest co-hosts, she added that she wanted to thank the fans for "standing by" during the process.
"Now it's time for a new era of our show," she said introducing (worst kept secret of the summer) Michael Strahan. The burly new 6-foot-5-inch' co-host came in and swept tiny Ripa off her feet, giving her a huge hug. Balloons dropped and they kissed on the lips.
"We're like that insane couple from The Bachelor," said Kelly.
"I'm speechless," said Michael, then added, "I adore you. I'm so happy to be part of this. ... You know how they say, it's a dream come true. I truly can't say that because I didn't know I could even dream this."
The show's name now: Live with Kelly and Michael.
Strahan, 40, and father of four, gave his new "TV wife" Ripa, 41, a bouquet of roses. His fiancee, Nicole Murphy (Eddie Murphy's ex), was standing off stage and waved to the crowd.
Strahan went on to say he "felt bad" when the news got out two weeks ago and had to play dumb and not answer the many tweets and texts of congratulations that he had gotten.
After the big Strahan intro was out of the way, host chat topics included pet names for loved ones, the tooth fairy and the death of Michael Clarke Duncan. Before introducing guests Claire Danes, Phillip Phillips and members of the women's Olympic gymnastics team, Ripa asked Strahan if he was ready to get to it. He took a deep breath. "Whew, now I'm ready."