When it comes to the increasingly large small-screen, Kelly Ripa has done it all. Soap opera? Check. Daytime talker? Check. Prime-time comedy? Check. Saturday Night Live stop-bys? Check. So who better to oversee this Sunday's TV Land Awards (9 pm/ET) than one of this reporter's most favorite funny girls? TVGuide.com relished the chance to speak with the Live with Regis and Kelly cohost about "remaking" Laverne & Shirley, boogying with the Brady Bunch, stealing someone else's belly button and much, much more.
TVGuide.com: I'm nervous to talk to you, because I always get afraid that Q&Aing a funny person won't yield appropriately funny material. Do you ever have that same concern on Live?
Kelly Ripa: I do, I do. I have what I like to refer to as "posttraumatic talk-show disorder," where I'm like, "Oh, that didn't go well. I should have done this this way and that that way...." It's that way with any career.
TVGuide.com: Was it intimidating to host the TV Land Awards, an event so significant that they bumped three episodes of The Jeffersons for it?
Ripa: [Laughs] I have to tell you, I was very nervous because I have never hosted an awards show, really. About 18 years ago, I cohosted with, like, four other people the Soap Opera Digest Awards, but this... it was very nerve-racking. I was fine until I looked out there and saw these faces that I "know" so well.
TVGuide.com: You must have felt like you stepped into the movie Pleasantville.
Ripa: I really did. I really, really did. It was surreal. There's the cast of Taxi, the cast of The Brady Bunch, the cast of Roots, the cast of Hee-Haw — all together. "There's Jeff Conaway and by the way, there's Sharon Stone." [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: How many fabulous wardrobe changes can we expect?
Ripa: Because I have a couple of costume changes at the beginning and the end of the show that are actual costumes, I kept my wardrobe very simple. I wore one dress throughout the show and I wore a second dress at the end of the night. The costumes were enough for anybody.
TVGuide.com: Right. The pretaped opening has you channeling such iconic TV characters as Mary Richards and the Flying Nun. Which was your favorite?
Ripa: To me, the biggest thrill was doing the opening of Laverne & Shirley with Cindy Williams. We literally were on a New York City street going, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, schlemiel, schlemazel, Hasenfeffer Incorporated," and people are lining the streets. They're not sure what's going on, but they're sure that it's something they should be recording with their camera phones. I said to Cindy, "I want you to know that with the exception of the birth of my children, this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me."
TVGuide.com: You enter the auditorium Sunday night soaring above the crowd on a flying rig. How did that go for you? Any near-mishaps?
Ripa: No mishaps, really. Ideally, I would have liked to have flown in a little straighter than I did, but I got disoriented when I looked down and saw Charo wave to me. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: She'd be a good one to land on, though.
Ripa: She was wearing red sequins.... She looked really pretty! I almost pitched forward and flipped over in midair.
TVGuide.com: Was Isaac serving her a drink?
Ripa: Isaac was not serving her a drink, and I was very disappointed that he wasn't. I would have liked to see them [the Love Boat cast].
TVGuide.com: What's the first TV show you remember being an avid fan of?
Ripa: Gosh, it's hard to say.... I remember on Sunday nights watching All in the Family with my family and being quite young. I remember watching The Brady Bunch year after year, forever, and now my daughter [Lola Grace, 5] watches it.
TVGuide.com: This year's TV Land Awards actually stages a Brady Bunch reunion, right?
Ripa: Oh, yeah. We have a big-time Brady Bunch reunion. And there may be a huge finale of the cast of the Brady Bunch and me. We may or may not be singing....
TVGuide.com: Did Cousin Oliver get shafted again?
Ripa: Cousin Oliver is a jinx! The whole show would have imploded if he were there.
TVGuide.com: Of course we have heard how wonderful it's going to be to have Regis back on Live next week....
TVGuide.com: But tell me, what's the worst thing about having him back?
Ripa: Oh, my gosh, I don't know.... I can't really think of anything that would be bad about it.
TVGuide.com: You'll get to talk five percent less?
Ripa: [Laughs] That's a good thing, I think! I'm exhausted! I will say that in hair and makeup, we're still doing two people but somehow there seems to be more [free] time. And I'm not sure why that is.
TVGuide.com: Why did Live this year switch Emmy categories, into this newfangled one, "Outstanding Morning Show"?
Ripa: I don't know. I stay out of the Emmys entirely. Every time we get nominated, I don't even know how it happened. "Did we put ourselves in?" That's a producer question. I love the Emmys, they're fun and they're great, but I don't think we're ever going to win for talk-show hosting. Our show does what it does and we enjoy it, and our audience loves it, so.... Lots of shows that have won Emmys are off the air now, so we're just happy to be here.
TVGuide.com: Live is heading to New Orleans for sweeps. What was the genesis of that idea?
Ripa: We do a remote every year, and it just seemed like the right time. The rebuilding process is well under way, and they were happy to have us.
TVGuide.com: Is Sean Penn still down there with the motorboat? If so, might he be a guest?
Ripa: I don't know, but we would love to have him! If he'll have us, we'll have him.
TVGuide.com: I see you, of course, out there doing commercials for this and that. Has there ever been a product you've turned down?
Ripa: We turn down a lot. [Laughs] Sometimes you get some very strange requests. I remember once when I was pregnant and they asked me if I wanted to do a weight-loss medicine. I was like, "I'm just pregnant."
TVGuide.com: I've always wondered, did you catch any flak for spoofing your own Pantene ads on Saturday Night Live?
Ripa: Not really. I caught a lot of attention — people thought it was really funny — but....
TVGuide.com: [In a deep voice] "Um, Kelly... we did not appreciate that here at Procter & Gamble...."
Ripa: No, when you hire me you know that I have a sense of humor. When you're being spoofed that way, it's the highest honor ever. I love when I get spoofed on SNL. That's the height of fame. It's still one of the funniest [commercial parodies], it's included on the DVD sets.... I think they appreciate the infamy.
TVGuide.com: Did I read something about the Shape cover you're on right now, that it's not really your belly button?
Ripa: No, it's not. I asked them to change it. [Laughs] I have a big outtie. I have an outtie, yes. There, I said it. It's very funny, they said, "We want you to do the cover of Shape in a bikini," and I said, "I have to warn you, I have an outtie." They said they didn't care, but I said, "OK, but is there any way maybe you could fix it? And give me an inny?"
TVGuide.com: So, whose do you have? Like, Fergie's?
Ripa: I don't know whose belly button I have, but I love it! I want to take it to the plastic surgeon and say, "Can you do this to me, without causing much pain?"
TVGuide.com: What's the premise?
Ripa: I can't tell you. If I did, I would have to kill you.
TVGuide.com: But he is our smiling, white-toothed host?
Ripa: He's our smiling, white-toothed host. This one is going to be a good one. A friend of mine who's a producer at Live took a peek at some of the footage. He even called me after Idol was over and said, "I wish I could watch Mark's show right now." We were going through the anticlimax that is the hours after American Idol ends.
TVGuide.com: Did anything ever come out of your and Mark's inspired-by-our-on-the-set-of-All My Children romance project for the CW?
Ripa: Not yet, but we haven't given up on it. They're not going to make it this year, but you never know.
TVGuide.com: After Hope & Faith, are you open to a series-regular gig again? I know you popped up on The Knights of Prosperity this season....
Ripa: My friends were the producers of that show; they gave me my big break on Ed, that's why I did that. But really, I have become quite lazy in my mid- to late-thirties. I really like working one hour a day.
TVGuide.com: You're looking at retirement homes in Palm Beach?
Ripa: I swear, that's all I do, is read the Palm Beach real-estate sections! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What TV do you and Mark watch when curled up on the sofa? Or with his irrepressible libido, is there no time for that?
Ripa: Both, A and B. After his irrepressible libido is satisfied, we watch... oh, he's walking by me. Mark, what do we like to watch?
TVGuide.com: Oh, god. He's there?
Ripa: We like to watch American Idol.... [To Mark] What's that? Yes, we do watch 60 Minutes, that's true. He's trying to add some credibility to us. We like Anderson Cooper 360... and Dancing with the Stars. There, I said it.
TVGuide.com: And what TV makes you laugh?
Ripa: The Office, I think, is great, and 30 Rock. Tina Fey is a genius. She's a genius. And I believe that Dwight Schrute is the funniest television character of all time. When he was attacking Roy with the pepper spray?! [Laughs] Oh my god, it was so good!
Let our new Online Video Guide treat you to some Kelly Ripa clips.