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I'm So Happy You're Back': Ripa Returns to 'Live' Following Several Days of Unplanned Leave

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“I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts after 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”

Image via Twitter / Philly Daily News

ABC morning show host Kelly Ripa returned Tuesday morning to “Live With Kelly and Michael” after taking a several days off following the announcement last Tuesday that co-host Michael Strahan would be leaving their show to co-host “Good Morning America.”

Ripa’s brief departure sparked talk of behind-the-scenes conflict between Ripa and Strahan. Upon her return Tuesday, Ripa addressed the rumors directly to the audience.

“I’m fairly certain that there are trained, professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message,” she began, smiling at the crowd, who had just given her a standing ovation when she walked onto the set.

“I want to honestly and sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show,” she said.

“The show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming,” she continued, adding, “I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”

According to ET, Ripa never planned to take Wednesday off last week. A source close to the morning show told ET that the host was “blindsided” by Strahan’s announcement.

Ripa noted that her main concern throughout the unexpected ordeal was about communication and respect in the workplace.

Strahan and Ripa co-anchored the show for four years, following the retirement of longtime host Regis Philbin. Ripa joined Philbin to host the morning show in 2001.

After addressing the issue of Strahan’s departure and her brief sabbatical, Ripa moved on with her typical bubbly attitude.

“This show is about entertainment! So let’s get back to the entertainment,” she said.

Ripa congratulated Strahan Tuesday, and the two seemed amiable as ever.

“I’m so happy you’re back,” Strahan told Ripa, whom he affectionately dubbed “the queen of morning television.”

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