That wasn’t an earthquake talk-show fans felt on the morning of May 1, but Kelly Ripa at long last making the seismic announcement of who would be her new cohost on Live With Kelly. The answer: Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol icon and driving force behind the Kardashian clan as the producer of the reality TV shows that made them a household name.
Immediately, the lovefest was on. Ryan took to Instagram to post pictures of himself and Kelly having a blast on the set, while she gushed that Ryan “knows my whole family,” and that she was in love with his mom, Constance. But the mutual admiration society was short-lived, claims an insider: “By the end of their first week on-air together, they were already at odds with each other. It’s a clash of two giant egos, and even though they’ve just started their partnership, I don’t see it having a happy ending. The honeymoon could be over before it’s even begun.”
With his Idol and Kardashian connections, Ryan is unquestionably one of the most powerful figures in television. As a result, says the insider, “even though he’s joining Kelly’s show, I don’t see him taking any guff from her. The word is they’ve already had serious disagreements behind the scenes on the set, and the pressure of having to pull off a friendly facade five days a week for who know show long will probably create even more friction.”
Another source claims, “It’s been reported that Kelly actually didn’t have a say in Ryan coming on board, but that he was forced on her by network executives. And given her reputation as a controlling diva, I’m sure that just added to her butting heads with him from the get-go. As for Ryan, despite his down-to-earth Mr. Nice Guy image, he may have a swelled head that’s even bigger than Kelly’s — if that’s possible!”
Not surprisingly, sources claim that it’s just a matter of time before they start backstabbing each other. “Ryan knows that Kelly is just an ex–soap opera actress who’s full of herself,” claims the insider. “As for Kelly, her friends think Ryan is a user and a phony. The mood on the set is positively toxic.” (Reps for Kelly and Ryan deny that there are any problems between them.)
war of words
Kelly, 46, seems to have a history of turning on her Live cohosts. In an emotional interview in March, Regis Philbin, the daytime TV legend who brought her on board in 2001, said he hadn’t heard from Kelly since he left the show almost six years ago and was deeply hurt that she never invited him back as a guest. While executives at Live disputed his assertion, “it’s clear that Regis is heartbroken over Kelly icing him out, even though he was the one who launched her career,” the insider says. “And don’t forget how Kelly went on the warpath a year ago after Michael Strahan announced he was leaving Live for Good Morning America. She’d already been having jealous rages because viewers seemed to like Michael more than her, but once she learned he was jumping ship, she froze him out too, and refused to even speak with him off camera.”
Ryan, 42, is no angel either when it comes to his coworkers, says a source. “People forget when American Idol started in 2002, he was cohosting with standup comic Brian Dunkleman. Then Brian left the show after the first season and basically fell off the map — and there are a lot of people who think Ryan had everything to do with Brian’s ouster so that he would be the only star on Idol.” Indeed, Brian eventually revealed that he was “bitter” and depressed for months after the turn of events, and at one point admitted that he resented Ryan. Even as recently as last year, Brian underscored again that he was “very upset about it for a long, long time.”
As if things between Kelly and Ryan weren’t tense enough already, it was announced on May 9 that ABC will be airing a new American Idol series in the fall — and the rumors are that Ryan, who ended the show’s 2016 finale with a cryptic “goodbye for now,”could return as the host.
“I heard that Ryan had already been telling friends that if he had his way, he’d move Live to Los Angeles, where he lives,” the insider claims. “Given that Kelly’s whole life — the show, her husband and their children — revolves around NYC, that would be devastating for her, and would force her into a tough decision about staying on the show. Now the news about American Idol suddenly comes out just a week after their first show together, so you’d have to wonder if Ryan already knew that was going to happen while he was negotiating his new job on Live.
“It also seems hard to believe that Ryan would be able to handle both shows — so that would just give him more ammunition to demand that Live be moved to L.A. so he could pull double duty. If I were Kelly, and found out after the fact that Ryan had these other plans in place, I’d be absolutely furious.”
As time passes, the insider adds, “it’s going to be interesting to see how these two individuals coexist. My guess is that there will be enough fireworks behind the scenes to light up the Fourth of July. There’s so much friction already that it will make Kelly’s fights with Michael seem like dinner dates.”