Kelly Ripa puts her talk show host charm down on paper in new book 'Live Wire'
To most, the name Kelly Ripa elicits an enthusiastic, favorable response. Known for her work on “Live with Regis and Kelly” — which became “Live with Kelly and Michael” and then “Live with Kelly and Ryan” when Ryan Seacrest hit the scene — the beloved morning show host can now add author to her list of accomplishments.
“Live Wire: Long Winded Short Stories,” out Tuesday, is a collection of essays about Ripa’s life both on and off-screen. Ripa opens up about personal challenges with humor and shares behind-the-scenes looks at her life with various high-profile colleagues. In the book, Ripa also shares her long struggle with anxiety.
“I keep thinking that I’m trying to cure myself of my fear of public speaking by hosting a morning show,” Ripa says. “I will always have anxiety and I will always have some sort of regretful feeling about everything I say in public. But I’ve known Ryan Seacrest for over 20 years. He has it, too. And so it’s sort of great to work with somebody who normalizes my own feelings of dread and anxiety.”
“Live Wire” by Kelly Ripa (Courtesy)
Her camaraderie with Seacrest was new to Ripa. She doesn’t touch on it in the book, but she was at the center of the controversy when Michael Strahan, her co-host at the time, left their show to host “Good Morning America.” Even prior to his departure, many of Ripa’s fans thought he didn’t treat her well as a colleague.
Ripa also writes about her time working with talk show host Regis Philbin. When she joined the show in 2001, she was told to submit to whatever Philbin wanted, only speak when he wasn’t and suffer through the disrespectful way he treated her.
“There have been so many discussions about power dynamics and fair treatment in the workplace. But when I was talking about that, nobody else was,” Ripa says. “It was something that people actively recoiled from or went deaf to. And it wasn’t until recently that people started having those tough discussions.”
“Live Wire” isn’t just stories of personal strife and unfair work environments. Ripa shares laugh-out-loud stories about navigating her intensely public life, like meeting her now-husband Mark Consuelos wearing hair curlers with toothpaste slathered on a pimple or trying to get Richard Gere’s attention as he helped up a woman who’d fallen down.
In one essay, she tells of a fateful small purse choice for a White House Correspondents’ Dinner, into which she shoved a tampon.
“I didn’t realize the way I wedged it in when I opened the bag that it would spring forth with such a velocity. People were more horrified to learn it was a tampon than an actual projectile of some kind,” she says. And I thought it would have made everyone feel better had it just been a grenade.”
What about the stories that didn’t make the cut for this collection of essays? Ripa says she’s saving those for her memoir.
“I’m just kidding. I will never do this again,” she says. “It was such work. So much more work than I had anticipated.”
Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Grace Griffin adapted it for the web.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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