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NY Post
Page Six
22 Apr 2023

NextImg:Why Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos won’t listen to ‘irritating’ trolls

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There is a lot riding on Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ shoulders.

They have to keep loyal fans happy and also grow “Live!” — the show that Ripa has starred on for the past 23 years — for a new generation of viewers.

The couple seemed giddy on Monday as Consuelos, 52, took his seat beside his wife, Ripa, 52, for his first official show as co-host after years of filling in as needed.

“The future starts now,” the pair — who found love after co-starring on the soap opera “All My Children” in the ‘90s — announced at the top of the show. Ripa then introduced her husband as her forever talk show partner, joking he would be “joining me today and permanently until one of us dies.”

But then the cranky trolls came out of the woodwork.

Kelly Ripa and hubby Mark Consuelos are moving full steam ahead despite gripes about their show, sources say.

Throughout the week, there was social media criticism that the famously frisky couple, who shared an on-air “partner yoga” session and a chat about their bedroom habits, were showing too much PDA — plus the fact that Thursday’s and Friday’s shows were pre-recorded rather than live.

According to a “Live” production source, Kelly and Mark find the complaints “irritating.”

“Kelly’s been through this before — with every new co-host!” the production source told The Post.

“If it wasn’t Mark — say it was [Ripa pal] Andy Cohen — it would be the same exact story.

Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos doing yoga

Despite their on-air antics, Ripa and Consuelos have never tried couples yoga at home, a friend reported.

“Joel McHale [a fill-in co-host] once had to carry Kelly upside down for an obstacle race and her head was at his rear end and her arms were wrapped around his waist — can you imagine the faux outrage if Mark had to do that?”

And while one commenters groused, “Remember the days with [original co-host] Regis [Philbin] when REAL social & news issues were discussed? NOT ‘Bedtime eating & sleeping habits’ …” the production source insisted that “Kelly and Mark are certainly not going to change the recipe for success.

“Kelly has been discussing her marriage and home life on air for 23 years, and Mark is also fully immersed in this art form — and it is really kind of an art form.”

Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos

Ripa and Consuelos are famously frisky on social media.

Ripa herself said this week: “I had no concerns about how well he was going to do and he really proved me right…I’m so proud of him, but I was never worried.” She told Page Six, “I just told him to get out there and enjoy himself, be himself and he did.”

It was the show’s most viewed week in nearly three years in New York, an ABC rep told Page Six. The network also hopes that Consuelos will help bring in a younger demo thanks to him having co-starred in the CW hit “Riverdale.”

The production source called the direction of the show, now in its 40th season and the No. 1 syndicated daytime show in the US, “evolutionary, not revolutionary. For Kelly, she just feels that … fundamentally, it’s not changed. The show itself is about two people discussing what they did the night before, what restaurants they went to, what they read, watched and listened to.”

Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest

Ripa co-hosted “Live!” with Ryan Seacrest for nearly six years. He announced his departure in February.

That said, another source added, “I can give you complete assurance that Kelly and Mark have never done couples yoga at home!”

The plan for Consuelos to take over from Seacrest had been in the making for some time, Page Six is told.

News broke in February that Ryan Seacrest, 48, would be leaving “Live!” after nearly six years. As Page Six previously reported, there were fears that Seacrest had exhausted himself by shuttling between NYC, where the show is set, and Los Angeles, where he primarily lives.

Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa

Ripa joined “Live!” in 2001, replacing Kathie Lee Gifford and joining Regis Philbin on air.

Back in 2012, after original host Regis Philbin’s retirement, Ripa auditioned nearly 60 potential male co-hosts — including Josh Groban, Seth Meyers, Neil Patrick Harris, Alec Baldwin and NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan — on air for months before settling on former NFL star Michael Strahan.

He later left the show to co-host “Good Morning America” without telling Ripa in 2016, prompting her to stage a walkout and give the audience a now-famous monologue about respect in the workplace.

At the time, Ripa told Vanity Fair: “No one would make me happier than Mark [as co-host], but he values our marriage and he says that he doesn’t see how we could stay married and both do that show.”

Kelly Ripa, Michel Consuelos, Mark Consuelos, Lola Consuelos, Joaquin Consuelos

Michael (second from left), Lola and Joaquin (far right) are Ripa and Consuelos’s kids.

This time, after news broke that Seacrest was on his way out, it was quickly announced that Consuelos would join his wife on air permanently.

“We’d be the last people on earth to suggest ourselves to work together for anything,” Ripa told Variety. “They were putting the data in front of us, like, ‘Do you realize how much you’ve worked together in your careers?’ And it actually really started to make sense to us.”

No other names came into the conversation aside from her husband, she added. “They seemed pretty set on Mark.”

Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos, Michael Consuelos, Lola Consuelos, Joaquin Consuelos

The co-hosting couple have said they love to embarrass their kids.

Longtime show producer Michael Gelman added that Consuelos was the “perfect choice” as he has been part of the show for years.

“If Kelly had wanted her husband there and the network didn’t, she could have screamed from the mountain tops and it still would not have happened,” said a Ripa friend.

“The network had to convince Mark that he would be good for the longevity of the show, and the sanctity of the show.”

Consuelos told Page Six Friday: “I’m really happy, I’m looking forward to next week and beyond.”

Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan

Ripa and former co-host turned “Good Morning America” anchor Michael Strahan. The pair had a very public falling out when Strahan left the show to join “GMA” full-time in 2016.

Ripa, who has three children with Consuelos, is the first to say that she’s a tough cookie and will fight for what she believes in.

“People forget that Kelly is a New Jersey Italian at heart — it is NOT a good idea to cross her,” a Manhattan socialite who knows Ripa told Page Six.

In an interview with Variety in March, Ripa told how she had been forced to fight for an office of her own by ABC execs after they relegated her to a janitor’s closet, and had to fight for her estimated $20 million-a-year salary.

Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest

Ripa and Seacrest co-hosted “Live!” together for nearly six years, but friends feared that Seacrest was pushing himself too hard.

“I don’t think they wanted to pay me,” she said of negotiating her large contract. “I think they had to pay me.

“I was trying to walk out the door and close it behind me. And I think they really figured out rapidly that they had screwed up in a major way, and it was not a good look. I think that was really the impetus behind paying me fairly. They had no choice.”

The star admitted that had she “known how difficult” her first three seasons would have been, she might not have taken the gig in the first place.

“Other people forget. Kelly doesn’t forget,” said another source who knows Ripa.

For the past 15 years, Ripa and Consuelos have been running their own production company, Milojo — named for their kids, Michael, 25, Lola, 21 and 20-year-old Joaquin.

The company makes sports documentaries, docu-series and true crime shows, and, with Jimmy Kimmel’s production company, Kimmelot, co-produces ABC’s “Generation Gap,”which Ripa also hosts. Ripa also hosts a new Apple podcast, “Let’s Talk Off Camera,” on which Matthew McConaughey recently revealed that Woody Harrelson could be his brother.

Ripa and Consuelos are now venturing into scripted content and recently optioned Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s best-selling book “Mexican Gothic,” which they are developing at Hulu.

And, Page Six is told, Ripa is writing a workplace comedy set in another era.

Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos

Ripa and Consuelos have been criticized by social media users for their PDA.

Still, the friend said Ripa told her, “If I could find a way to make a living without having to show my face I would take that job!”

Indeed, the co-host told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month: “Every time you get a new co-host, it’s like a little jolt of energy … But to be clear, I am always thinking about retiring. It is my favorite topic of discussion.”

“Kelly and Mark’s first week has already made a positive impact at ‘Live,’ both for our entire team and viewers at home,” Disney Entertainment’s Debra O’Connell said: “The outpouring of support across social media, as well as the double-digit ratings growth in key demos, is a true testament to Kelly, Mark and the ‘Live’ production team, who continue to impress and energize us each morning.”

As for the future, the Ripa friend said, “It’s been a 10-year conversation in Kelly’s house, at the least — but it’s not [just] about her.

“There is an entire staff of people that she works with, that she respects, who are truly family. Mark is just as invested in the group as she is … so it’s not just about when she’s ready to hang up her cleats.”

Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos

Ripa and Consuelos had been in talks with ABC for months for him to join “Live!”.

On Thursday, as the couple put a pre-recorded show on air, they were already filming three new shows.

“Kelly would love to be helpful in the shepherding in the next phase of this show to keep it going as long as possible,” added the friend. “People are counting on their jobs. Live! is a franchise show. It’s not about Kelly or Mark, it’s about the health and stability of the franchise.

“When they feel that there are two other people who can carry on the show eventually, then that’s what will happen.”