If the buzz is to be believed, when Kelly Ripa makes the big announcement about her new “Live!” co-star on September 4, she will be saying the name “Michael Strahan.” Yep, the gap-toothed former NFL star will reportedly be the new Regis Philbin.
Strahan, 40, has certainly been well-received by the morning show’s audience, who hooted and hollered when he ripped off his pants and performed a “Magic Mike”-inspired strip tease on the show late last month. And there has long been buzz that out of the 59 guest hosts who “auditioned” for the role with Ripa since Philbin retired in November 2011, Strahan was at the front of the pack. Stephen Battaglio, who is the business editor for TV Guide, explains the reasoning behind the pick to Yahoo! TV. “She is comfortable with him," Battaglio says. "He's filled in on the show many times, so Disney ABC Television was probably able to do a lot of research on how the audience feels about them as a team. The ratings are up among younger viewers since Regis left the show, which tells you that Kelly is who they're tuning in for. So if she's happy, the viewers should be happy.”
So who is Strahan – other than the guy who bested Seth Meyers and Nick Lachey for the job? He was a pro football player for the New York Giants before retiring in 2007. He ended his 15-year NFL career with a Super Bowl win against the previously undefeated New England Patriots. He immediately transitioned to TV as a commentator on “Fox NFL Sunday,” and he took on guest roles on shows including “Entourage,” “Chuck,” and “Are We There Yet?” He has also appeared in countless commercials – from Campbell’s Chunky Soup to Sports Authority.
However, there have been some bumps in the road, so much so that a 2006 New York Times article noted that Strahan “will need to spend time repairing his image.” The comment stemmed from his bitter 2005 divorce from his wife, Jean, which played out in the New York City tabloids. For three years, the Strahans waged a nasty court battle against each other during which she accused him of abusing her, secretly videotaping her sister undressing, and having affairs with multiple women – including one who went by the name Cupcake. (Yes, Cupcake.) For his part, Strahan said she was guilty of overspending his fortune, dropping $27,000 on clothes for their then 20-month-old twin daughters in a just one year. "They like to be accessorized," Jean testified in court.
A judge later awarded Jean a whopping $15.3 million, which was a huge win for her as court records showed his net worth was about $22 million. Jean later held a tag sale at their $3.6 million mansion in Montclair, N.J., selling the family’s intimate possessions on the front yard.
In 2009, Strahan’s personal life made headlines again when the New York Post reported that he put a GPS-type tracking device in his new girlfriend Nicole Murphy’s car when he allegedly suspected she had been cheating. Strahan never commented on the incident with Murphy, the ex-wife of comedian Eddie Murphy, and they are still a couple, happily appearing together on the red carpet just days ago.
Strahan was also likely left embarrassed when his close friend Marc Dreier, with whom he hosted an annual Strahan/Dreier charity golf tournament, was arrested in 2008 for running a $113 million scheme to defraud investors. The following year Dreier was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
With all that in the past, Strahan will now be spending his mornings with Ripa, playing “Travel Trivia” and talking about current events during host chat. Of the gig, he told CNN, “I try to not think about it as replacing Regis. There is no way I can ever do that. And I think if you put it in that aspect, if you think about it, it`s just too big.”
Ripa will host the September 3 premiere of the show by herself – the first time she’s ever appeared solo – with Claire Danes and Phillip Phillips as guests. Her announcement about her new co-host will take place the next morning.