Since TV legend Regis Philbin left morning talk show "Live! With Regis and Kelly" last November, Kelly Ripa has held her own alongside guest co-hosts such as Jerry Seinfeld, Josh Groban, Peter Facinelli, and Michael Strahan. Along the way, she's even managed to improve ratings by 12 percent over the previous year, according to The New York Times. Clearly, it's Kelly who keeps viewers tuning in. So perhaps "Live! With Kelly" should be the permanent title? "The format of the show has always been built for two people to host and we are actively looking for a co-host," Kelly told omg!. "To our surprise, it's just been an embarrassment of riches because everyone is so good at it. We've had so much fun doing it. It really sort of brings a new energy to the show." No timetable's been given for the search, but we do know that Kelly was selected as co-host in February 2001, more than six months after Kathy Lee Gifford left.
Kelly, 41, revealed that so far everyone who's been asked to sit by her side has said yes. "We've been surprised by the people that have thrown their hats into the ring," she shared. "We've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who are interested in this little job that we hold so near and dear to our heart."
The 80-year-old Philbin is a tough act to follow! He'd been in the anchor chair for 28 years — almost 11 years alongside Kelly — so it's not surprising to hear that he still watches the show and even reaches out to his former co-host. "[Regis] called me two nights ago, as a matter of fact," Kelly said. "He called to tell me how happy he is for me and how proud he is of the job we're doing there and the great ratings news that came out. He's always been such a wonderful guy and so irreplaceable, and that's why we're not trying to replace him. [We want to] do it in his honor but differently."
At least Kelly noted that she doesn't plan to leave a.m. TV anytime soon. That could be an especially good thing, since the New Jersey native recently discovered she has one less career option: professional sports. She and soccer star Brandi Chastain recently led a soccer clinic for kids in NYC to kick off a campaign by Electrolux Appliances, a brand Kelly represents as spokeswoman. As part of the initiative, parents are invited to share the last time their kids made them proud on the Electrolux Facebook page. Every time they do, they're entered in a contest to win an Electrolux Perfect Steam washer and dryer set, and Electrolux donates $1 to one of Kelly's favorite charities, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. "When you're with Brandi Chastain, who is like a world-renowned soccer player, and you stand next to her on the field, immediately you look like the weaker player," Kelly said. "It all began with her teaching me how to dribble the ball on my leg, and I had the ball for one second, I dribbled it once on my left knee, the ball bounced off my knee, and hit a little boy in the face. So I think I'm not going to quit my day job just yet."
I can't wait to see who ends up by her side!
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