ABC knew that Ryan Seacrest would be out at “Live with Kelly and Ryan” as long ago as last summer, sources tell Page Six. And network brass already had his replacement in mind.
ABC was wooing Ripa’s hubby, Mark Consuelos, since last year to join the show and take over for Seacrest on “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” we hear.
Insiders say that ABC brass approached Consuelos last summer for the role, with the expectation Seacrest would leave.
Ripa said on the show, when Seacrest announced his exit on Thursday morning, that they’d “been talking about [it] for a long time,” but did not specify how long.
Seacrest, 48, chimed in, “It was a tough, tough decision… Last year, we spoke and I made the decision to make this my last season as co-host with Kel, here… which is bittersweet.”
ABC was already prepped to make Consuelos the cohost, we hear.
Ripa’s former soap opera star hubby had sat in as a co-host on the show around 100 times over the years, a TV insider told us — and social media engagement has spiked when he and Ripa, 52, are on the air together, they said.
A source told us that as a result, ABC saw Consuelos, 51, as a “built-in host” for the show.
Despite all the preparations behind-the-scenes, the show was able to keep the announcement under wraps until Seacrest broke the news on Thursday.
Seacrest told viewers, “What I plan to do is once ‘American Idol’ starts from Los Angeles later this spring, I’ll head out to the West Coast and host that show.”
He also said that he will “guest host and fill in” on “Live.”
Ripa said of her hubby, “The only person I can think of that is capable of holding [Ryan’s] torch the way [he has] held it would be my husband, Mark Consuelos.”
She said that she and Seacrest had joked that the new husband-wife co-hosting setup is “the nation’s weirdest social experiment.”
Her past co-hosts have included Michael Strahan and Regis Philbin.
A rep for ABC did not immediately comment.
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