The hardest working man in show business has one less gig. On Thursday morning (Feb. 16), Ryan Seacrest announced that he is stepping down from his co-hosting slot on Live with Kelly and Ryan after a six-year run.
“Last year we spoke and I made the decision to make this my last season as co-host,” Seacrest said on air, describing the choice as “bittersweet” and a “tough, tough decision.” Luckily for Ripa, her co-star’s replacement is already lined up and she’s very familiar with her new TV spouse. In fact, it is her actual husband, Mark Consuelos, who has filled in for Seacrest in the past; Seacrest assured viewers he’ll pop in as a guest host from time-to-time in the future.
The show will now be called Live with Kelly and Mark; Consuelos will be on camera on Friday (Feb. 17) to begin settling into his new gig. In a statement, Seacrest — who will keep hosting American Idol, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, his syndicated On Air with Ryan Seacrest daily radio show and the American Top 40 countdown — said working with Ripa has been a “dream job” and one of the highlights of his career.
“She has been an amazing partner, friend, and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other’s lives, I will miss our mornings together,” he said, also thanking the show’s executive producer Michael Gelman and the crew. “We’ve made memories to last a lifetime, met some of the most incredible people and had the warmest welcome into the homes of so many viewers across America. It’s been a memorable ride and now I’m excited to pass the baton to Kelly’s ‘real’ husband, Mark.”
Repeatedly placing her hand on his arm, Ripa said, “You are a gem. You are one of my best friends. The greatest part of this experience has been that you’ve gone from being a friend to a family member. You are family. We love you. We are so proud of you… I know how much of a sacrifice it’s been. I know how exhausting it’s been going back and forth [from New York to L.A.] I fully understand your decision making.”
Appearing choked up, Seacrest heaped praise on Ripa — who joined the show in 2001 alongside late co-host Regis Philbin — telling his co-host that he respects and looks up to her. He got sentimental about his opportunity to connect with viewers every morning as she gently rubbed his back and he marveled at how much they “winged” it every day.
At the end of the segment, Seacrest and Ripa hugged and he joked about promising her that he wouldn’t cry, so they cut to commercial to give him time to weep off camera.
Watch Seacret’s announcement below.