The talk show host is standing by her “Live with Kelly and Ryan” co-host Ryan Seacrest amid allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted a former stylist over the course of six years.
Many have been calling for Seacrest to pull out of the E! red carpet pre-show for the Academy Awards on Sunday, which will no doubt touch upon Hollywood’s recent reckoning with the Me Too movement. Ripa, however, only had kind words to say to him, wishing the “American Idol” host good luck before the event.
“I cannot wait to see you there,” she said on Thursday’s broadcast. “I am very excited. And I just want you to know, you are a privilege to work with and I adore you. Speaking on behalf of all of us here, I know what a easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very lucky to work with you each and every day.”
“You are happiness,” Seacrest replied in kind, to which Ripa responded, “You are happiness wrapped in chocolate.”
The two then shared an on-air embrace after the exchange.
Anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding the radio personality from a former stylist first came to light in November. Months later, an investigation by E! News concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The stylist later identified herself as Suzie Hardy and accused him of harassing and assaulting her while she was under the E! network’s employ from 2007-2013. Hardy alleges that Seacrest grabbed her crotch multiple times, as well as “grinding his erect penis against her” while wearing only underwear, according to a Variety report published this week.
Seacrest released a statement on Tuesday responding to Hardy’s allegations, knocking the report as “salacious” and claiming that he’s being exploited for financial gain. He also continued to express his general support for the Time’s Up and Me Too movements.
“I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories,” the statement read.
“Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accuser and countless others.”
“I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process,” he said.
E! has confirmed that Seacrest will be at the award show come Sunday, while speculation abounds that certain actresses will avoid interviews with the talk show host on the red carpet.
Jennifer Lawrence expressed some hesitation when recently asked if she would speak to Seacrest before the ceremony, saying, “I don’t know about the Ryan Seacrest thing.”
“He has not been to trial for anything. I am not a judge. I am not a jury … that is where this stuff gets tricky,” Lawrence said.
Watch a clip from Thursday’s episode below.