Ladies and gentleman, we have a dark horse in the competition to become Live!'s new co-host.
Since Michael Strahan's high-profile exit from Live!, the search has been on for Kelly Ripa's new co-host, with a merry-go-round of guests filling the seat next to her, attempting to win over Kelly, now an executive producer, executives and viewers. Some of the biggest names in the running includeJerry O'Connell, who E! News was told "really" wants the job, and Fred Savage, among others.
However, that all changed on Oct. 21, when a high school teacher from Perkasie, Penn., won a social media contest to co-host Live!, and the world met and immediately fell in love with Richard Curtis.
In fact, the response to Richard's stint was so overwhelmingly positive that he's been asked to return for the Nov. 7 show, where will he sit down with Sarah Jessica Parker and Jared Padalecki. "Honestly, so excited to be back in that chair!" Richard wrote on Instagram. "Hosting that show was incredible and I'm ready to show America the guy they saw is who I really am! Blessed! This is all because my wife rocks and made me do it!!! Thanks Boo!!!"
As someone who watches Live! almost every morning, and was deeply upset over Michael's departure and a staunch defender of Kelly's handling of the situation, I'm using Richard's second time in the chair as his final audition, and I'm convinced Live! might be, too, as there are a few good reasons for the 30-year-old father of two to possibly resign from his job as a teacher for a career as a morning talk show host.
I'll be honest, when I heard they were launching a contest to find a fan to serve as Kelly's co-host, I groaned, thinking the search for Michael's replacement has officially been going on for far too long. And I was already cringing just thinking about how awkward the show could potentially be, with a mega-fan just staring at Kelly the whole show. I was so wrong.
Richard was cool, calm, and collected. In fact, I thought maybe he was a NASCAR driver I had never heard of, not the contest winner I'd been dreading. Instead, he was poised, charming and blew me away.
And according to TMZ, he "blew everyone away" over at Live!, too.
Richard was the picture of ease when he traded in teaching high school students for interviewing Elijah Wood and Blacklist star Sullivan Stapleton, and proved to have an easy rapport with Kelly...dare we say one of the best we've seen her share with any of her guest co-hosts since Michael's departure? The fact that he's a "real person," and not another famous face or one of Kelly's friends, a la Anderson Cooper or Andy Cohen, makes their effortless chemistry even more impressive.
And after the utter disaster that was Michael's messy departure, we think having a newcomer come in as the show's new co-host could be its best bet, adding a different element that the show's never really had before, a—gasp!—normal person, who provides a calming yin to Kelly's spunkier yang.
With the comedic O'Connell, there's the question of relocating his family, wife Rebecca Romijn and their daughters, from California to New York, a similar dilemma for Savage, who also provides a mellower vibe. Plus, what if they find daytime TV less appealing once they make the move from special guest host to permanent daily co-host?
And while a source close to the show still believes the co-host race is between Jerry and Fred, they did say, "Anything's possible."
I guess we'll find out after Nov. 7.
Would you like to see Richard take over as Live!'s new permanent co-host? Sound off in the comments!