ENTERTAINMENT

Kelly Ripa Returns To 'Live' And Speaks From The Heart After Week-Long Absence

"Guys, our long national nightmare is over."

Kelly Ripa returned to "Live with Kelly and Michael" on Tuesday, after taking a week off following reports she was completely blindsided by news her co-host, Michael Strahan, is leaving for a full-time gig at "Good Morning America."

Ripa received a standing ovation from the audience as she walked across the set hand in hand with Strahan. 

"Guys, our long national nightmare is over. Please, please sit down," she told the audience members, who were clearly glad to see her. "I'm going to be completely honest, I'm fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message. I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show."

She continued, "The love, the show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I really, I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts -- after 26 years with this company, I earned the right. And let's be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other. In that time I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart. I didn't want to come out here and just say something I might regret. So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace."

Ripa went on to say that if she's being honest, she doesn't just consider "Live" a workplace but a "second home."

"This is a place that I've devoted myself to, not just because of you, our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show," she said. "We have an incredible team, we are incredibly devoted to one another. We are family. Apologies have been made and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that 'Live' is a priority."

The studio audience broke out in applause and Ripa settled them down, joking, "Guys, calm down, they didn't say anything about Christmas bonuses."

Ripa also congratulated Strahan on his new gig for the first time.

"I am thrilled for Michael, I'm thrilled for you. This is a tremendous opportunity and I couldn't be, and we couldn't be, prouder of you," she said. 

Ripa also attempted to let viewers know that she was somewhat aware of how ridiculous her problems might seem to them, wrapping up with: 

"This is entertainment. It's supposed to be entertaining. So let's get back to what we do best and start the show. Oh wait, incidentally, I just want to say one thing, my dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we're all crazy. And I think he's right."

Meanwhile, Strahan also made nice with Ripa, calling her the "queen of morning television."

"I'm so happy you're back," he told Ripa. "The one thing I know about you is that you love the show, you love the fans, you love the staff. And I love you."

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