Review written by Dr. M. Emanuele
For those who don’t watch daytime TV, Kelly Ripa has been the co-host of Live! for 20 years. She has been honored with six Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host and 15 Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show, with a win in the category in 2012. From 2001 to 2011 she was the sidekick of Regis Philbin, and since then has continued the show other co-hosts. Ryan Seacrest has been her sidekick since 2017.
The media hype that preceded the release of Live Wire by Kelly Ripa was extensive. The word was that it was going to be “a tell-all” no-holds barred focus on the Live! with Regis and Kelly show, which was among the most wildly popular daytime talk shows in the history of television with 6 million viewers daily. Live! With Kelly and Ryan is still the most-watched daytime talk show, but viewership in just 2.3 million now.
As it turns out, as we say in Texas, the book hype was all hat and no cattle. The only bashing of the Regis Show (what little there was), had to do with the network and its contract limitations, not the show itself. Regis Philbin was only mentioned in about 3 paragraphs and even those were benign. So if one is looking for an insiders’ view of the Regis/Kelly show, this book is not it. One wonders what she really thinks about all those years with Regis. The closest we get is this: “His curmudgeonly, irritated, slightly hostile uncle act was no act. Sure, it was his television persona, but it was also his genius.” He basically made her career, but only has a walk-on role here. If it was a really fantastic experience for her, one would expect many pages describing the good times. Since virtually nothing is said, one is led to the suspicion that instead of revealing a ton of negativity, she has chosen the better part of valour and kept her quill uninked.
Most of the book consists of a series of vignettes into her life with her husband Mark, the three children, and her nuerosis relating to her mother. Intermixed are glimpses of her career on different TV shows, including All My Children. But the most interesting chapter is about her children choosing colleges. That’s as good as it gets!
Ripa admits that “Writing this book has caused me to have imposter syndrome.” The phrase, which was new to her, came from her son Michael. “Imposter syndrome is when you don’t believe you’re good at something other people think you’re good at. Right? Mom, is that right?” With this insecurity firmly in place at the book’s outset, the remainder is easier to understand. For example, when Kelly admits she is afraid of public speaking. “In my nonwork life, I go to great lengths to avoid speaking engagements. Hosting events, other than my own talk show, fills me with a level of dread that I cannot explain.”
For some reason she spends several pages describing her birth state of New Jersey (the lingo, the bagels, the sports) and about as much space on her marriage to Mark (they got married in ’96). “Mostly, I believe we have stayed married this long because we have mastered the dark art of compromise…and the darker art of obstinance.” I didn’t know they were dark arts. Anyway, she does devote a chapter to the couples therapy they (sort of) engaged in.
She discusses plastic surgery quite frankly. There was a time when the tabloids went crazy printing stories about her (non-existent) procedures ranging from chin implants to a boob job that went wrong. “Eventually the stories ended. Just like that. And that’s when it dawned on me…I must look like shit. And I knew that it was time to actually get some procedures, for real.” At age 38 (in 2008) she went to a doctor and said “I have just been worried that maybe I am not ready for such intervention since I’m only 38.” Dr. B. stared in disbelief. “Oh honey, you are ready.” The rest of that chapter tells the tale, which is quite amusing.
In conclusion, this is a fast read for a lazy afternoon when there is nothing more pressing to do.
An anodyne effort, the Ripa book is largely a Ripoff.
Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories is published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of William Morrow. It is $28.99 Autographed books are available for a higher price on Amazon:
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore