Ryan Seacrest announced earlier this month that he will leave “Live with Kelly and Ryan” this spring after six years as co-host with Kelly Ripa.
The story made news for about a day and then receded into the background of whatever else took its place on the story lists of the entertainment news sites.
By all appearances, the show thrived in the Ryan Seacrest era, but that’s the thing. There just do not seem to be milestones in television now that anybody labels “the end of an era” anymore.
Seacrest, 48, made his announcement on the show on February 16. He graciously thanked Kelly Ripa, producer Michael Gelman, and the rest of the show’s staff for the opportunity to work with them.
The announcement gave no reason for his decision to step away, but Seacrest is a one-man TV and radio conglomerate with a lot of irons in the fire. Perhaps he just felt he needed to stop burning his candle at both ends.
In his announcement, he said he will be moving from New York, his principal home for six years, back to Los Angeles, where the bulk of his business interests are based. He always seemed like more of an L.A. show business figure anyway.
The date of his last show has not yet been revealed. Kelly Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, 51, who has guest-hosted the show many times, will become Kelly’s permanent co-host. The show will almost certainly be renamed “Live with Kelly and Mark.”
How the exit of Ryan Seacrest and Consuelos’ assumption of his seat will be marked on the show is not yet known.
Whatever they decide to do on that last day, the show’s fans will eat it up. I am sure it will be very festive and light-hearted.
But at the same time, its relative importance pales when compared with TV sendoffs of the past, both distant and not-so-distant.
For example, when Kathie Lee Gifford left the show in 2000 after 12 years of co-hosting with Regis Philbin, editors thought this event was so important that reporters were assigned to actually go and watch the show -- if the publicist would provide them with seats -- and write on it that day.
I could be wrong, but it is doubtful that Ryan Seacrest’s last show will draw the same attention.
Other notable exits just in the past decade included David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (from Comedy Central).
Craig Ferguson’s final episode of his “Late Late Show” on CBS in December 2014 may have been the finest of all of them. His successor, James Corden, is due to say good-bye in May.
Will the same investments in time, effort and money go into staging his farewell in quite the same way?
When TBS folded “Conan” in 2021, Conan O’Brien was TV’s elder statesman of late-night, having lasted in the time period in one way or another for just shy of 28 years.
That was not enough to earn him a grand, celebrity-filled finale, however. Instead, his final episode in June 2021 was quiet and subdued.
In fact, Ryan Seacrest’s final episode on “Live” will likely be a lot noisier, in keeping with the nature of this upbeat, high-energy mid-morning talk show.
Ryan will go and Mark will take his place. It is like a TV circle of life, right?
The one constant on this show has been Kelly Ripa, now 52, who has been there since 2001 when she became Regis Philbin’s co-host.
She passed Kathie Lee’s 12-year stint a long time ago. And now, in year 22, Kelly is one year shy of Philbin’s 23-year run.
I often wondered if Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford regretted their decision to leave Wheel of Fortune in 1981 just before it began its "America's Game" dynasty.