Ryan Seacrest’s departure from “Live with Kelly and Ryan” came as no surprise to those on set.
In fact, the 48-year-old star frequently appeared exhausted before leaving “Live With Ryan and Kelly,” leaving his friends and colleagues worried about him, multiple sources told Page Six.
The multi-millionaire has been filming “Live,” for which he gets paid $10 million a year, in New York City, as well as “American Idol” and his syndicated radio show, “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” since 2018.
And fatigue has been responsible for Seacrest missing an increasing number of “Live” shows over the past six months, one industry insider revealed.
It all led up to ABC chiefs quietly formalizing a deal last week for Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, to take over full-time as her co-host. Only a small team of people was clued into the Consuelos plan, according to sources. Consuelos has often filled in for Seacrest, including a week-long stint last October.
“Some of Ryan’s absences created tension with everyone involved on the show,” said the insider. “But everyone cares about him and respects him and just wants to make sure he’s OK.”
His co-host and longtime friend, 52-year-old Ripa, who is on a $20 million-a-year-deal, has rarely missed a day in her 23 years on the show.
“They started talking about Ryan leaving last summer, and when they announced Ryan’s departure, both Kelly and Ryan wanted to put whatever issues — arising from the workplace and Ryan’s other responsibilities — they had behind them,” the insider added.
“They’ve known each other for 20 years and, regardless of recent strains, it is a real friendship.”
As Page Six revealed back in May 2020, ABC executives feared that Seacrest was “overdoing it,” and fans even worried he had suffered a stroke live on air when he appeared to slur during the “American Idol” final. Seacrest later cited “exhaustion” for his issues. He then pulled out of filming “Live” less than 30 minutes before the show was meant to air.
According to a friend who works with Seacrest, he found the schedule “punishing” and hates living in New York City.
Seacrest has regularly been traveling between his homes in Los Angeles and NYC, and a source who knows him told Page Six: “It’s not just ‘Live.’ Ryan has to travel to audition cities for ‘Idol’ — they just went to Hawaii. It’s exhausting.
“It is hard doing ‘Live’ every day. It’s a grueling schedule. There are double tapings and he runs between his radio show and ‘Live.’ He’ll have a 10-minute break and they’ll say, ‘Come and do some one-liners for the radio show.’”
It’s all added up to more than one person can handle, said the source who knows Seacrest. “He’s not quite burned out, but he knows himself [and knows] he needs a break. In the last couple of years he’s valued his time off with his family and his loved ones,” said the source.
“Look, he originally signed up for three years [on ‘Live’] and then signed another three-year contract, so he really did enjoy doing the show.”
The source added that Seacrest — who grows his own olive trees and has been pressing olive oil to share with friends — is keen to work even more in the culinary space: “He’s really interested in learning how to make wine, he has a passion for cooking, and this is the kind of thing he wants to invest in.”
Seacrest, who has an estimated fortune of $450 million, will now move full-time back to the West Coast, where he recently sold his Beverly Hills compound for $51 million. California is also home to his girlfriend, 25-year-old Aubrey Paige, who sent him a Valentine’s Day message this week on Instagram, captioned: “Loving you has been the adventure of a lifetime.”
He has a long-running working relationship with ABC and will continue to host “Idol,” for which he’s paid more than $10 million, alongside the network’s “sing-along shows” and his New York Rocking Eve special. He is also a producer of “The Kardashians” on Hulu, the streamer owned by ABC parent company Disney, and recently premiered a scripted drama called “The Watchful Eye” on Freeform, which also Disney-owned. Alongside this, the host’s radio show deal runs up until 2025.
Seacrest and Ripa announced his departure on Thursday’s “Live,” which he will continue to appear on this spring before the show is officially rebranded as “Live with Kelly and Mark.”
Leaving was a “tough, tough” decision, Seacrest noted on the show, and a “bittersweet” one.”
“Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career,” he added in a statement.
“There is nobody else like you,” Ripa told him on Thursday’s show: “There is nobody who can really do what you do. I know you in real life as well as in TV life. I say this about very few people: what you see is what you get. This is not an act, this is a good man. I am so endlessly impressed by you.”
Still, said the industry insider: “It was a collective decision that this was the time for Ryan to leave.”
Ripa, Seacrest, and Consuelos all appeared on air Friday.
This marks the third co-host Ripa has worked with since she joined Regis Philbin on the show in 2001, replacing Kathie Lee Gifford. Philbin’s last show was in November 2011 and he died at the age of 88 in July 2020.
Former NFL star Michael Strahan then joined Ripa hosting the show from September 2012 until April 2016, when it was announced he would leave “Live” to join “Good Morning America” full-time.
But Strahan’s departure was fraught and Ripa was said to be furious when it was revealed she had not even been told of the plans. Strahan has said the pair no longer speak. The show went through a number of co-hosts before Seacrest was announced as Strahan’s replacement.
One friend of Ripa’s told Page Six: “There is a huge contrast between Ryan and Strahan’s departure, this was by far the best relationship of Kelly’s previous co-hosts. Mark has stood in for Ryan with greater frequency and this was just the right time.”
Page Six has reached out to Strahan’s rep at ABC.
Ripa and Consuelos are now empty nesters at their $27 million Upper East Side home as their son Michael, 25, has moved out, while daughter Lola, 21, and Joaquin, 19, are at college.
The couple, who also own homes in the Hamptons, Colorado, and the Caribbean, are looking forward to working together after meeting on the soap “All My Children.”
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“With their kids out of the house and forging their own paths, the timing couldn’t be better for them to return to being colleagues,” said the Ripa friend.
Per: Page Six