- Kelly Ripa detailed how she came to cohost “Live! With Regis and Kelly” alongside Regis Philbin.
- In her book, “Live Wire,” Ripa said that the contract negotiations were “petty.”
- Ripa said she was “commanded” to use Philbin’s hair and makeup team, among other things.
Ripa, known for her role as Hayley Vaughan on the soap opera “All My Children,” served as a guest cohost prior to landing a full-time job at the talk show. Following Kathie Lee Gifford’s exit in July 2000, a search began for a replacement cohost.
In her book titled “Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories,” released on Tuesday, Ripa said that she noticed “a vibe shift” when she returned to the “Live!” to cohost for the third time. The actress said she was “given a list of reminders” ahead of her appearance.
“My agent said they didn’t want me bringing an entourage to the studio,” Ripa, who was pregnant with her second child at the time, wrote. “He said there had been complaints. This confused me as I had only been bringing Richard and Doreen, my hair and makeup team.”
“I certainly would never be invited back to cohost again,” she said. “I wondered what I had done to bring about this drastic change because as all women do, I blamed myself.”
Ripa said that afterward, Angela Shapiro, the then-president of ABC daytime, told her that the network wanted to make her an official offer to become the new permanent cohost.
Ripa wrote in her book that there was a divide between the network (ABC) and the show’s local affiliate (WABC). The Emmy-winning host said that she told Shapiro she didn’t think the people over at “Live!” including Philbin, liked her.
Ripa said that the job offer was accompanied by a warning: “They want to make sure you know who your boss is.”
Ripa recalled discussing the offer with her husband Mark Consuelos, who told her the job would provide “better working hours and more money.” Ripa said that over the phone with her agent, she was informed of a laundry list of “deal breakers.”
“The list would have been comical to anyone in the entertainment industry had they been listening,” Ripa wrote. “I thought they were petty, for lack of a more accurate descriptive.”
“Usually, the breaking point of any negotiation comes down to money, which this did as well, but the executives at ‘Live!’ were also willing to blow up the deal over much smaller issues. I’m talking the most basic of basics,” she explained.
“I wasn’t permitted to use my own hair and makeup people,” Ripa said.
“I can’t state enough how standard it is to have a dedicated makeup and hair team on any show, much less one bearing the ‘talent’s’ name,” she continued. “But this was the number one deal breaker and the most consequential flash point of my entire contract.”
According to Ripa, her small team also wasn’t allowed to do her hair and makeup at the “All My Children” set prior to the talk-show tapings “even if I paid them myself.”
“I was commanded, yes commanded, to use Regis’s hair and makeup team,” she said. I pushed back that it made no sense for me to have to go to the second studio, wash my face and hair, and have it all redone for the soap. They insisted it was a deal breaker as ‘Live!’ had a very specific look. We laughed at the absurdity of the thought of what that look might be.”
Ripa added that to her relief, the show’s makeup artist and hair stylist turned out to be “talented” and “welcoming.” But there were other points of contention in the offer.
Ripa said that “there would be no wardrobe services or budget,” which, she said, “never happens on any show.” Additionally, there would be no paid maternity leave and she wasn’t permitted to have an office (“I simply had to have my own cubicle”).
Additionally, Ripa said that her name “had to be smaller than Regis’s name on the ‘Live!’ title card and branding. A game of inches, which speaks for itself. But on that we agreed.”
Ripa accepted the job offer and the show was renamed “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”
She and Philbin worked alongside each other until he retired. After his final show aired on November 18, 2011, Ripa became the head of the show. Various celebrities stepped in as guest cohosts until former NFL player Michael Strahan was selected as the new permanent cohost in 2012.
He departed the show four years later and Ryan Seacrest has been Ripa’s cohost since 2017.