Looks like Kelly Ripa’s No. 1 draft pick is Michael Strahan — and it’s a great choice.

Strahan will reportedly land the much-coveted slot as Ripa’s cohost on “Live! With Kelly,” which has been vacant since Regis Philbin stepped down last November.

There was no confirmation from “Live!” but it had been announced Monday that the new cohost will be introduced Sept. 4 on the show, which is seen in New York at 9 a.m. on WABC/Ch. 7.

TV personalities and other candidates were also reluctant to comment Tuesday on the news, which was first broken by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, pending any official word from Ripa or ABC. Pat Kiernan of New York 1, who had two guest stints with Ripa, said, “It would be disrespectful for me to comment unless something comes from ABC.”

Ripa tried out 59 guest hosts, including Strahan, and while she had strong rapport with Seth Meyers and several others, the long-time Giants defensive end and future football Hall of Famer just might be the best choice.

Not the most obvious. Just the best.

Even in the diverse world of TV hosting, Strahan stands out. He’s 6-foot-5. He played at 275 pounds. He’s black. He’s got the most famous front-tooth gap since Lauren Hutton, and every so often, in the pearly white world of TV, we need that look.

At the very least, he and the 5-foot-3 Ripa immediately become the most interesting visual couple on television.

For starters, he knows how to use his size. And just because he played football, that doesn’t mean he’s a dumb jock. In fact, quite the opposite.

He also has a disarming ease about him, and while his ex-wife Jean might question that assessment, he’s become as comfortable in front of a TV camera as he was manhandling an offensive tackle.

Those cameras forgive almost any sin if you smile often and broadly enough. Strahan’s got that principle down, and it gives him a gentle-giant demeanor that makes women trust and like him.

That’s a good thing on a show where most of the viewers are women.

It’s a nice bonus that men like him, too, knowing they can say “split end” and he’ll think football, not just hair.

Yet despite Strahan’s size, he doesn’t take up all the oxygen in a room. He’s not Michael Jordan, where all eyes lock in for the duration.

He can sit next to Ripa and it will still be Ripa’s show. She’s the quarterback, and from Strahan’s guest spots it’s clear he understands his role is to let her call most of the plays.

He’s bright enough to comment intelligently on the world, quick enough to throw out a bemused one-liner and smart enough to realize that he doesn’t have to dominate this show to win the game.

He’ll stay on Fox’s Sunday morning NFL show. He’ll still have his own profile.

He also doesn’t turn 41 until November, making him a year younger than Ripa. If this works out, they could be at it for a while – and having a stable team on a show where viewers value comfortable reliability is just one of the many potentially smart parts of this apparent selection.
The ones that got away

58 other people tried out; here are our five favorite losers:

Pat Kiernan – the NY1 anchor was a local favorite, and didn’t hide he wanted the job.

Mark Consuelos – while fans would love to see Kelly and her hubby co-host, she’s said they can’t “stay married and both do that show.”

Seth Meyers – the “Saturday Night Live” funnyman was rumored to be the frontrunner, but reportely didn’t want to leave “SNL.”

Josh Groban – the singer was once a rumored top contender, but insiders later shot that down.

Anderson Cooper – Kelly herself has said that the pair has “a connection like nobody else,” but he’s committed to his own shows.

So do you think the folks at Live! made the right choice? Let me know on my facebook page by clicking here. 

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August 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Kevin Machado, On Air | No comment