Kelly Ripa on “Live! With Kelly” is one of my favorite people on television. That’s why I was a little nervous about meeting her and going to her show in New York. I thought being in the studio audience would give me a chance to see what she’s like in “real life.” I didn’t want to find out she wasn’t the funny, cute, self-deprecating person she is on her show.
Years ago while in New York for Fashion Week, I went to the “Live with Regis and Kathy Lee” show. It was fun, but there wasn’t much interaction with the audience, and producer Michael Gelman seemed very serious.
Turns out Kelly is even better off camera.
She treated audience members as though they were long-lost friends. Every commercial break, she’d hop off that chair and head to the audience for pictures, autographs, questions and comments. Luckily, I ended up on the front row with my friend Sierra, who also was in New York for a couple of days. Sierra had been there before and assured me I wouldn’t be disappointed. Still, my expectations were high.
First of all, we ended up on the front row. That’s good and bad. You’re unbelievably close to Kelly and the co-host, who that day was Randy Jackson. But we became good friends with a cameraman who was even closer. Sometimes the camera blocked our view, but we were still happy to be front row.
“I’ve been working really hard to get ready for my post-Oscar show,” Kelly said. “And by that I mean I’ve had hair extensions in, I’ve had eyelash extensions put on. See?” she said as she batted her eyes.
“I usually sleep, well, on my face, but now I don’t want to move and mess up my extensions or lashes, so I sleep like this,” she said, standing like a soldier at attention with her eyes closed.
I was fascinated how Gelman constantly writes on pieces of poster board with a felt-tip pen, giving directions, suggested questions, etc. Producer Art Moore, decked out in a bright red cashmere sport coat for Valentine’s Day, sat quietly, watching and smiling. And Kelly took great pleasure in making him blush so his face matched his coat.
Gelman was funny “warming up the audience,” letting us know when to applaud, explaining it is more effective when you clap double time. And, even though he’d done it a million times, he knew which lines worked for him and how to get the best response from an audience.
Once the show was under way, however, Gelman was busy making sure Kelly got to where she was supposed to be by the end of the commercial breaks. As she talked with audience members, he’s say, “Kel, 30 seconds.” Later, it was “Kelly.” Then, when she hadn’t moved, he’d say, “Kelly Ripa.”
The host isn’t petite, she is diminutive. Her dress was I’m sure a double zero. I couldn’t imagine her pregnant. She must have looked like a Popsicle stick with a gumball attached. She wears high heels. She had on beautiful black pumps that had 5-inch heels, and they weren’t as big around as a pencil. She even hula-hooped in those heels! And rode a little Hot Wheels bike.
When Kelly came over to show me her lashes, I told her we had a mutual friend, Dana Fleming. Sierra took our photo, and I felt like a giant standing next to her. She couldn’t have been nicer.
“Show that to Dana,” she said. I usually don’t do the picture thing, but I wanted my picture with Art Moore, too, because I had interviewed him on the phone the week before, and he was so nice. And even nicer in person.
After the Valentine’s Day show was over, they did some taping for future shows. Gelman said they were going to give away another prize, and there would be surprises. Kelly changed clothes, Randy Jackson left, the stage hands were moving stuff all over the place, and a new show started.
Everyone had a fit when the co-host this time was Josh Groban. He is very funny, and if he didn’t have such a fabulous voice, he should be co-host all the time. Kelly mentioned several times how they wished he would come work there.
During a commercial break, an audience member asked him to sing something. He sang a quick version of “Happy Valentine’s Day” to Kelly to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” The man can sing, but you already knew that.
The guy from the big New York Toy Show was there and had a child’s wading pool filled with the stuff they make fake snow out of. Kelly took her shoes off and got in. Gelman couldn’t get her to get out. She loved it. Once out, she scooted all over the floor on a towel.
One reason she’s so fun on camera is she is totally comfortable. It appears she loves for everyone to have a good time — and for her to, as well. She’s the same on camera as when she’s off camera.
I was so happy to learn the Kelly you see on TV is what you get in person. Relaxation time was over. It was time to go back to Lincoln Center for fashion shows, watching more very thin people in beautiful clothes and shoes.