Niagara Falls was buzzing early this summer as the latest and greatest broadcasting duo of Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa brought their LIVE with Kelly and Ryan stage to Niagara Falls for a special Canadian broadcast of their iconic morning talk show.
The co-hosts made their home in Niagara Falls’ Oakes Garden Theatre joined by a live audience. Along with an impressive list of guest over their two day show – which kicked off with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and continued with Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel, Canadian-American actor Nathan Fillion and musical guests Erin Bowman and French Montana – the show also showcased a number Niagara Falls’ favourite and most exciting attractions.
This was the show’s third time broadcasting live from Niagara Falls and marked Seacrest’s first remote broadcast with Live with Kelly and Ryan.
I spoke with Live with Kelly and Ryan’s long standing executive producer Michael Gelman following the shows live broadcast from Niagara Falls to discuss LIVE’s relationship with Canada and what can be expected from theshow with their new dynamic hosts.
Mr. Gelman! How did you and your team enjoy your time in Canada?
Michael Gelman: We had a great time. Very happy with our shows and we had fun. We had good weather and everything worked out. We had a lot of dire [weather] predictions and I am so happy when they didn’t turn out to be correct. You can tell we were having a good time in [Niagara Falls].
Why host a third LIVE show in Niagara Falls?
Even though we have been here before –it was over a decade ago that we were here last; 11 years actually. And I thought it was about time. We had such a great time the last time and there is so much to do and it is such a gorgeous background. The [Oakes Garden] theatre is great, the fans are great – and you get to really access people from Toronto, from Buffalo, from Rochester, that whole northern border area. So I am happy we came back.
While you were in the Falls, you and Kelly and Ryan and the team were able to enjoy a few of Niagara’s top attractions. In particular, the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. How did you enjoy the ride?
I loved it. I did it 20 years ago when I was [in Niagara] and I remember it being exciting but I don’t think I remembered quite how exciting it was. When those waves are coming over you, you really feel it.
As well, Kelly took a tour in a helicopter. How was filming the ride over the Falls?
It is a great piece. It was nice to be able to get [Kelly] up there and surprise [her son] Michael with a little bit of a birthday celebration. We had a really great time.
You also visited Two Sisters Winery while you were here – how did you enjoy Niagara’s wine country?
Oh it was great. [Two Sisters winery] is such a beautiful structure and their wines were delicious. They did a nice job with the food and the wine. We can only say good things about that whole region. It was nice that [Niagara] was able to build this great business from scratch.
Now, other than the shows you have hosted in Canada over the years, what is LIVE’s overall relationship with Canada?
Well, I like to say I am half Canadian, because my better half – Laurie Gelman, formerly Laurie Hibberd – is Canadian. Originally she is from Ottawa but she lived in Toronto when she was on YTV – she did a show called Rock’n’Talk – and then she did The Mom Show for four or five years out of Toronto more recently. So I feel a kinship with the place. And again, there are so many great locations in Canada; we have taken the show to Banff, we have taken it to PEI, and I feel a real kinship with the people and the audiences [in Canada]. So it is always nice to bring the show up here.
With Ryan Seacrest now co-hosting LIVE, what new things do you see happening to the show with this new, fresh dynamic?
We have always produced the show really for the hosts’ personalities and it is different with every single person. And when you add a new person, then you have a new dynamic. So we try to tailor what we do – from a humour point of view, from an interest point of view – to the new pair. We are feeling our way through it and I think we are really capturing [Seacrest’s] personality and you can see that the two of them are having a good time and that we all are as well.
We like to have fun. We like to keep it light. We cover pop culture and will continue to do the things that we normally do. And it is going well – we are getting a great response.
You can really feel Kelly and Ryan’s friendship come across when they are together – it feels very natural.
Kelly’s had thousands of hours of live TV experience and Ryan is a master of live TV also. Put the two of them together and it is magic. They both are seamless broadcasters and so the two of them together, supporting each other, makes it even better.
What are some of the other secrets behind LIVE’s decades of success?
One of the big things is definitely picking the right person and after that it is about doing everything we know works. The audience really wants something different and to see everyone differently and see the hosts as their own person. So we really try to let the reality of who they are come through. We continue to do this now and it seems to be working. As [Seacrest] is on the air more and more, the audience will get to know him more and more.
I think it will all unfold in front of your eyes and hopefully the [audience] will continue to enjoy it. We are enjoying working with him and Kelly – who is obviously a pro. They handle everything we throw at them. We try to put them in situations that maybe make them a little uncomfortable, like the Jet Boats or the Helicopter, and when you do that, you kind of see who they are as people.
All images courtesy of Live with Kelly and Ryan