'Live' in No Hurry to Hire New Cohost

Guests aptly filling in for departed Michael Strahan as show’s popularity holds steady
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Michael Strahan ended his run on Live With Kelly and Michael on May 13, and six months later, the show doesn’t seem to be closing in on his replacement.

“There seems to be no real urgency,” says Bill Carroll, senior VP, director of content strategy at Katz Television Group.

A representative of the show declined to comment.

Live is not off its typical pace when it comes to searching for cohosts. The show took six months before naming Kelly Ripa the permanent replacement for Kathie Lee Gifford in February 2001, and it took nine months in between Regis Philbin’s retirement in 2011 and hiring Strahan, after some 20 appearances, in September 2012.

However, whether a permanent or guest host sits next to Ripa isn’t seeming to matter much. Season-to-date in households this year compared to last, Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly is down 11% through Oct. 30, from a 2.7 to a 2.4, and it’s holding steady in second place overall.

Most talk shows are down compared to last year, with only CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil up year-to-year, climbing 10% to a 3.3 from a 3.0 in households, and Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen up slightly in its sophomore season after moving the show to New York and adding former Dateline correspondent Hansen as host.

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So far, there’s been a total of 51 guest hosts—starting with Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! on May 17 through Ryan Seacrest on Nov. 16, 17 and 18—over the past six months.

Jerry O’Connell, who was said to be a frontrunner for the job Strahan ultimately got, has guest-hosted the most times, at 12, including the plum Halloween slot, which, along with Live’s live post-Oscar telecast, tends to be one of the show’s highest-rated of the year.

Fred Savage and Anderson Cooper are tied for the No. 2 slot at 11. Savage, a notable TV director who won critical reviews for his starring role on Fox’s one-season comedy The Grinder has other projects on his plate as well.

That’s also true for other frequent visitors, including Ripa pals Cooper and Bravo’s Andy Cohen, who’s been on five times. Empire’s Jussie Smollett also seems to be a favorite, having guest-hosted four times. Dancing With the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba is the only woman among top guest hosts, with five visits.

While it keeps looking for a permanent host—and the show is leaving no stone unturned, including running a fan contest that unearthed Pennsylvania teacher Richard Curtis, who’s hosted twice—ABC also has turned to Live to promote some of its talent, including Kimmel, Inaba, Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn, ABC News’ David Muir, and The Bachelor and Who Wants to be a Millionaire host Chris Harrison.

It’s also been a fun way for big stars to promote projects, such as Chris Pratt doing a guest-host turn on Sept. 23, on the same day his movie, The Magnificent Seven, premiered.

It’s anybody’s guess, but “I would assume they would make an announcement after the February sweep,” says Carroll.

DAY AFTER ELECTION, FOX NEWS’ KELLY CONSOLES NATION AS LIVE GUEST HOST

Fox News' Megyn Kelly joined Kelly Ripa for the first time as guest host on Live With Kelly last week.

“How did the polls get it so wrong?” Ripa asked Kelly, who responded: “What they think so far is there really was a hidden Trump vote. The reason they say that happened, when the pollsters called up and asked if you were a likely voter, they didn’t talk to enough of those. Some people also felt stigmatized about voting for Trump and didn’t want to tell the pollsters. “It was a resounding victory, there’s no question about it,” Kelly went on. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I think you’ll never again have a result like this where people got it this shockingly wrong.”

While Kelly agreed with Ripa that many were shocked by the outcome, the FNC correspondent offered reassuring words.

“After all of these elections, half the country is severely disappointed and half the country is elated, and it always ends up being OK. This is the United States of America, and it’s the most glorious place to live in the world,” said Kelly.

Kelly has a book coming out, Settle for More. She is also renegotiating her contract at Fox News, where she’s said to be seeking an annual salary of more than $20 million.

Michael Strahan ended his run on Live With Kelly and Michael on May 13, and six months later, the show doesn’t seem to be closing in on his replacement.

“There seems to be no real urgency,” says Bill Carroll, senior VP, director of content strategy at Katz Television Group.

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