On Monday, we learned that Kelly Ripa would soon name a replacement for her former co-host, Regis Philbin, who retired from their iconic morning talk show nine months ago. On Tuesday, several news sites, including the respected Broadcasting & Cable, spoiled the surprise: Live! With Kelly will soon be Live! With Kelly and Michael Strahan. The former New York Giants defensive end and current host of Fox NFL Sunday is admittedly one of 59 guest co-hosts who sat in with Ripa since Regis stepped down, but many commentators expected Ripa to take a more conventional route by picking SNL's Seth Meyers, singer Nick Lachey, actor Jerry O'Connell, or even her self-proclaimed dream pick, Anderson Cooper. Here are four reasons why she made an inspired choice in tapping the long-shot Strahan to sit alongside her in one of TV's most-coveted seats:
1. Strahan has an innate instinct for doing TV
"That gap tooth! That huge smile!" says Verne Gay at Newsday. The former NFL defensive end is "all charisma," and he "knows how to work a camera perfectly." Despite what you may think, doing TV is "not easy, friends!" It takes real talent to "figure out the mood of the room, then play along." You have to be quick on your feet, and know when to roll with the inevitable flubs and surprises. Strahan nailed it.
2. And he and Kelly have solid chemistry
Visually, Ripa and Strahan "look so crazy good together," says Julie Ryan Evans at The Stir, she all "blonde and petite at 5'3" and him dark and handsome," towering over her at 6'5". It's "a great contrast, in so many ways." But trumping even that, "their chemistry is undeniable." Yes, in his trial hosting stints, something about Strahan's "goofy smile and natural charisma naturally bounced off Ripa's perky demeanor," says Mack Rawden at Pop Blend. For whatever reason, "the two just worked." They know when to laugh at one another's jokes, says Newsday's Gay, and as a bonus, "they even seem to kind of like each other."
3. Strahan is funny, and willing to bare all for the show
Picking a football star-turned-football commentator to fill Regis' shoes "isn't as random as it sounds," says Natalie Finn at E! Online. After retiring from the NFL, Strahan "parlayed his expertise — and considerable charm — into a successful broadcasting career" that includes not only Fox NFL Sunday but also "the short-lived Fox sitcom Brothers" and a whole bunch of TV commercials, "most of them with a comedic bent." In other words, "he's a funny guy." And dedicated, says Glenn Davis at SportsGrid. Perhaps his most famous moment as guest host was when he did a Magic Mike–inspired striptease on live TV. It says something that he's obviously "willing to take his pants off if need be (which is about as edgy as a morning show can possibly get)."
4. He complements Ripa's silliness
"I'm unabashedly pro-Regis," and it will be hard getting used to Strahan as "the morning show guy," says SportsGrid's Davis. But even at 40, Strahan will certainly bring "a more youthful dynamic" to the show. Overall, I think "he'll be a good match for Kelly," says Newsday's Gay. "She's kind of girlish and silly at times; he'll be big and brotherly." He's smart, he stands his ground, "and he knows what he's talking about."