LOS ANGELES – Kelly Ripa is staying far away from the "Live!" set in the coming days.
She was a no show on Wednesday following the announcement that co-host Michael Strahan is leaving the series in favor of "Good Morning America," and she will remain off the air until at least Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the show told E! Wednesday afternoon: "On tomorrow's 'Live! with Kelly and Michael,' Erin Andrews will guest co-host with Michael Strahan. Friday's show—which already was scheduled to pre-tape on Thursday—also will be co-hosted by Andrews.
"Kelly Ripa will be out on Friday and Monday for a previously-scheduled vacation. On Monday's show, Michael will be joined by 'Pretty Little Liars' star Shay Mitchell.”
On Thursday morning, Strahan walked out on the set hand-in-hand with Andrews.
“Filling in for Kelly today is the one and the only Erin Andrews everybody," he said enthusiastically at the start of the show.
Pop culture expert, Cate Meighan believes Strahan's departure could lead to even more buzz than Ann Curry's ousting from the "Today" show in 2012.
Curry gave a tearful goodbye after 15 years on the show and many believe co-host Matt Lauer was the instigator behind her departure from the show.
“This is certainly beginning to look like it could even surpass the Lauer/Curry feud that hovered over NBC for more than a year,” she explained. “Up until now Kelly Ripa has always been a team player and her loyalty to ABC and the ‘Live!’ has been unshakable. The fact that she has dug in her heels and decided to sit out taping her own show sends a clear message that she's finished playing nice and no one really knows what that looks like because Ripa has never done it before.”
Dan Gainor, VP of business and culture for the Media Research Center, added that the current tension between Ripa and ABC could even make the media mess even harder to clean up.
“Ripa is 'beyond angry' at her own employer, never a good place to be,” he said. “Strahan, on the other hand, got moved to a more prominent gig on ‘GMA,’ so he has to be loving life. And, oddly, Ripa’s anger is making his move seem even more important.”
On Wednesday’s show, Strahan took a moment to thank ‘Live!’ and address his move to “GMA.”
“To all our viewers ... you still continued to give us your eyeballs and watch this show,” he said. "Thank you guys ... I can't ask for better fans… I'm always available to guest co-host ... I'm not going anywhere."
And Strahan continued to thank Ripa in his speech. "Kelly, I thank you. I love you and everyone else here at ‘Live!,’ and I'm not going to cry on TV momma, I promise you.”
Oprah Winfrey told ET at an event in NYC that the sudden change was not properly handled.
"Nobody should ever be blindsided," she said. "I don't know who's in charge, but somebody should've said, 'This is gonna happen.' You shouldn't have to read it in the paper. Ever."
TMZ reports Disney CEO Bob Iger orchestrated Strahan's move to "GMA" to help shore up the show's sagging ratings. However, there are also talks that “GMA” could be considering adding a third hour and knocking “Live!” off altogether.
Ripa, who just celebrated 15 years on ‘Live!’ in February, is currently making a reported $20 million a year.
Meighan explained that Ripa had nothing to lose by not showing up Wednesday if ABC does intend to move forward with an extra hour for “GMA.”
“Supposedly ABC's investment in GMA may mean nixing ‘Live!’ in favor of another hour of their morning show, with Strahan holding down the fort,” she said. “If there is any truth to that then Ripa may feel like she has nothing to lose in not showing up for her show. ABC has already proven that whatever their plan is, she and the rest of the ‘Live!’ crew are not a part of it.”
Fans on social media defended Ripa’s decision to stay home on Wednesday, still outraged by the move.
However, Gainor, believes Ripa needs to focus her energy on finding a new co-host instead of taking this time off.
“There’s built-in narcissism in the media business and pouting when you earn $20 million is the dictionary definition,” he said. “Instead of being angry, she should be celebrating her influence and look to find the next star she can build. There are about 7.3 billion people on earth who would love Kelly Ripa’s career problems and salary right now. It’s time for her to grow up.”
Request for comment from Ripa, Strahan and ABC have yet to be returned.