Kelly Ripa is opening up about the tensions behind the scenes with her late co-host.
In an interview with People about her new memoir, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, the “Live!” host shares the section on joining the show with then-host Regis Philbin was the “hardest chapter to write.”
Ripa, who had been a soap opera star, joined “Live!” in 2001, replacing Philbin’s departed co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m slamming anyone or that I’m being disrespectful. But I also want people to know it was not a cakewalk,” Ripa says of that time. “It took years to earn my place there and earn the things that are routinely given to the men I worked with. Including an office and a place to put my computer.”
She recalls being told she wasn’t allowed to bring “an entourage” to set on her first day, despite only having a hair and makeup person with her.
“Uh-oh, Gelman, it’s got an entourage,” she says Philbin remarked to the show’s executive producer, Michael Gelman.
“I felt horrible,” Ripa says. “He was probably trying to be funny, but at the same time it felt like a pile-on.”
She adds, “I understand that probably he didn’t want a cohost, but the network wanted me to be the cohost and I didn’t think I should pass up that opportunity. I don’t think it was fair to him. But it was also not fair to me.”
Over the years, there were “good and bad days,” and Ripa says that she did eventually grow on Philbin, and that she “so enjoyed” the “handful of times” they were able to spend time together off-set.
Ripa says Philbin was “the world’s best storyteller,” adding that she’d be happy “if I could become a tenth as good.”
In 2017, during an appearance on “Larry King Now”, Philbin claimed that he had “never once” been asked back on “Live!” after he left.
But Ripa tells People that in fact they had “reached out many times” to have him make an appearance, which he did, in 2015.
“It makes me sad but it’s not something I will ever understand,” she adds. “I was steadfast in my attempt at communication. You can’t make a person befriend you.”
Philbin passed away in July 2020, at age 88.