AceShowbiz - Ryan Seacrest is quitting "Live With Kelly and Ryan" after almost six years and he will be replaced by Kelly Ripa's husband, Mark Consuelos. Breaking the "bittersweet" news early into Thursday's February 16 episode of the long-running morning show, the 48-year-old presenter explained it had been a "tough, tough decision" to make, but he plans to focus on his commitment to hosting "American Idol".
"This is something that [Kelly] and I have been talking about for a long time, and it was a tough, tough decision. Last year we spoke, and I made the decision to make this my last season as co-host. 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 said.
While Mark will be taking over as regular presenter, Ryan promised he will return to" guest host and fill in" at times. In a statement, Ryan praised working with Kelly, 52, as a career "highlight." He said, "Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career. She has been an amazing partner, friend, and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other's lives, I will miss our mornings together."
"I also want to thank Michael Gelman and the entire staff and crew - we've made memories to last a lifetime, met some of the most incredible people and had the warmest welcome into the homes of so many viewers across America. It's been a memorable ride and now I'm excited to pass the baton to Kelly's 'real' husband, Mark [Consuelos]."
Meanwhile, Kelly - who joined "Live" in place of Kathie Lee Gifford in 2001, teaming up with Regis Philbin for 10 years and then Michael Strahan from 2012 to 2016 - paid tribute to her "dear friend." She said, "I'm so grateful to have spent the last six years beside my dear friend of too many decades to count and will miss starting my days with Ryan. Ryan's energy, passion and love for entertainment is one-of-a-kind."
Mark has previously filled in for Ryan on a number of occasions, but Kelly - the mother of his children Mark, 25, Lola, 21, and Joaquin, 19 - has previously joked it was "weird" sharing the screen with the "Riverdale" star. She joked during a 2020 episode, "It's so weird when you're here because I just saw you at home. Ryan, I see all the time, of course, but I never leave him and then go to work and there he is."