TV and Movies

Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest tease this year’s ‘Live’ Halloween costumes


The annual “Live with Kelly and Ryan” Halloween show is both tricky to pull off and a treat for its hosts.

Kelly Ripa, who began her “Live” tenure in 2001 alongside Regis Philbin and has hosted the syndicated morning talk show with Ryan Seacrest since 2017, says preparation for its annual Halloween show begins Tuesday, just after the previous one airs.

“We plan it all year round, and every year we do a theme around how many costumes we can work into” the event, she says.

This year’s choice  – “Live’s Multiverse Halloween: The Best in the Universe” – required more than 75 costumes.

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In an outtake from “Live” Halloween, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest parody “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” as characters from “House of the Dragon.”

Courtesy of ABC

“We are jumping through a portal that will take us as many places as we can go,” says Ripa, 52. “It’s like, how many costumes can we torture ourselves with this year? Whereas (in) the early years of ‘Live,’ it was really just us putting on a singular costume and doing the show.”

Monday’s show will include parodies of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon,” Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” Hulu’s cooking drama “The Bear” and reality-TV royalty “The Kardashians.”

Adding to the fear factor, hosts Ripa and Seacrest, 47, not only assume characters for taped segments but undergo transformations during the show.

“It’s like a nightmare because something always goes wrong, and you’ve got sometimes four minutes to make a change,” says Ripa. “You don’t realize how fast four minutes (go) until you’re changing completely your persona, hair (and) makeup in that short amount of time.”

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While it’s now common for hosts to don Halloween costumes – “Today,” “The Talk,” Tamron Hall, Drew Barrymore, and Ellen DeGeneres have played dress-up – “Live” differentiates itself with the sheer number of pop-culture references. “We haven’t done much of the old-time Dracula (or) Frankenstein: the spooky scary is not what the show has been about,” says executive producer Michael Gelman. “It’s more about what is of the moment and what can we have some fun with that everyone’s talking about that year.”

Gelman says the Halloween show is one of the series’ highest-rated episodes and generates a lot of feedback from viewers. “Live” is this TV season’s most popular syndicated talk show, averaging 2.2 million viewers.

Gelman credits Ripa with taking the Halloween show “to a new level,” thanks to her scary-good acting skills. “The fun part with Regis was that he would get into costume, but then he’d play Regis, which was always kind of its own humor,” says Gelman. “But Kelly really (puts) on the costume and then you can’t believe that she becomes these different characters.”

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Ripa, who has dressed as a number of Kardashians – memorably a bridal Kim in 2011 the day she famously filed for divorce from Kris Humphries after 72 days of marriage – says this year’s portrayal of Kourtney Kardashian feels like her “best Kardashian.”

“I just feel like I could relate to Kourtney the most,” says Ripa. She’s also pleased with her portrayal of “Happier Than Ever” singer Billie Eilish.

The opportunity to play Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) from “The Bear” excited Seacrest, who also “got all tattooed up” to play Travis Barker to Ripa’s Kourtney.

“It was fun to be Travis Barker for the day,” says Seacrest. “I also really like being Elvis. I didn’t think I was going to like it. I was fighting it because I was worried about having to move with a microphone on stage in a pink suit.”

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Reflecting on 20 years of Halloweens, Ripa says, “There hasn’t been a character that I haven’t loved.”

Ripa, who got her start on ABC’s daytime soap “All My Children,” relishes returning to her acting roots. “I like the pageantry of dressing up and playing different characters,” she says.

And she commits to a role. She ate real sticks of butter while impersonating chef Paula Deen (which prompted an amused Deen to send Ripa cookware, the host says). Ripa inhaled sulfur hexafluoride to achieve Elizabeth Holmes’ deep voice when she impersonated the Theranos founder in a skit for last year’s show.

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She’s also impersonated Jane Fonda, “I Dream of Jeannie,” Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic from “Tiger King” and Morticia Addams to husband Mark Consuelos’ Gomez: “That just made me endlessly happy.” 

Both Ripa and Seacrest count dressing up as each other among their favorite costumes.

“Because we sit next to each other, we can flip pretty easily and pretty quickly master our little idiosyncrasies and our body language and our habits and things like that,” says Seacrest. “That was a breakout role for me to play Kelly Ripa.”

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And while Seacrest says he gets nervous performing opposite his co-host, Ripa says Seacrest should get his due. “I always tell him he missed his true calling, which is being an actor,” she says. “He puts his whole heart and soul into it.”

Which Seacrest seems happy to do, as long as it doesn’t involve too much time getting into character.

“I like to be efficient,” he says. “I like to get in, get it done, move on to the next thing in the day. So anything with prosthetics and makeup are a drag for me.”

Seacrest out!

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