Ryan Seacrest bid an emotional farewell to viewers of Live with Kelly and Ryan as the famous broadcaster announced his departure from the popular daytime show.
Seacrest is exiting the New York-based ABC series after six years on the air, with plans to relocate to Los Angeles to host this spring's American Idol Season 21. Co-host Kelly Ripa's husband Mark Consuelos, who has frequently appeared as a guest host on the show, will permanently take Seacrest's place on the long-running morning program, which will be renamed Live with Kelly and Mark.
Seacrest shared the news on air during a heartfelt goodbye segment on the Feb. 16 show, calling his departure a "bittersweet" decision, and holding back tears. He went on to gush about co-host Kelly Ripa in a statement.
"Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career," Seacrest stated. "She has been an amazing partner, friend, and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other's lives, I will miss our mornings together."
Ripa, similarly, had nothing but warm words for her longtime co-host, who she counts as one of her "best friends" and a "family member."
"There is nobody else like you," Ripa told Seacrest on air. "There is nobody who can really do what you do. I know you in real life as well as TV life. I say this about very few people: what you see is what you get. This is not an act, this is a good man. I am so endlessly impressed by you."
Ripa's husband, Mark Consuelos, best known for starring in the ABC soap All My Children from 1995 to 2010, is set to fill Seacrest's shoes. The husband-and-wife hosting duties will be "the nation's weirdest social experiment," Ripa joked.
Ripa and Consuelos have been married since 1996, and the latter has stepped in to guest-host the show many times.
"As a fan-favorite guest host for years, Mark is no stranger to the Live family," Executive Producer Michael Gelman said in a statement. "Having him join the show is so special for us and we're sure that viewers will feel the same."
Gelman hinted that Seacrest may make special appearances on the show in future: "Goodbyes are never easy, but we look forward to welcoming Ryan back regularly with open arms."
READ MORE: Who Is Ryan Seacrest's Girlfriend? Inside The 'American Idol' Host's Romance With Aubrey Paige
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