Michael Strahan’s Game Plan for Hosting the ‘After Oscar Show’

Eric McCandless/Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution
"Hey you, up there...want to co-host a show with me?"

OSCARS_88 logoIt’s customary at the Oscars to thank the Academy. But Michael Strahan thanks caffeine. He and Kelly Ripa will host their annual Live With Kelly and Michael’s After Oscar Show on Monday, Feb. 29, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater, where the ceremony takes place mere hours before. The gig has them on air at 6am (to make the 9am East Coast broadcast), even though both work Oscar night, with Strahan on the red carpet interviewing the stars and Ripa grilling the winners backstage. Then they hit the all-night party circuit. Strahan explains how they make it work.

To Sleep or Not to Sleep: “That is the question,” says Strahan, who did catch some quick shut-eye on his first Oscar night in 2012—and lived to regret it. “Going to bed for two hours was the wrong choice. Now I go straight from the parties to the show, thinking, ‘I’m young! I can handle this! Suck it up, Strahan!’”

Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa, After the Oscars

Strahan and Ripa with Nyong’o

Golden Moments: Strahan’s favorite red-carpet goof occurred when he met Sidney Poitier in 2014. “I completely freaked,” says the host. “I was useless. I couldn’t focus. But I’m glad it happened. If you’re going to lose your cool, lose it for Sidney Poitier.” His top after-show memory? “Lupita Nyong’o let me hold her Oscar for 12 Years a Slave. For three seconds. Then she snatched it back, like I was going to steal it on live television.”

The Big Get: Who does Strahan think Ripa should zero in on backstage? “Leo DiCaprio,” he says without hesitation. “He gets everybody starstruck, especially this year because of The Revenant. If he wins, Kelly better corner him! We’re the luckiest people in the world to get to talk to the Oscar stars and have this kind of direct access—access we shouldn’t have! They really shouldn’t let us this close to the action.”

Who Are You Wearing?: Don’t expect the former NFL sensation to wander into Joan Rivers country. “I know everyone wants to hear about the clothes and the jewels on Oscar night but I just can’t ask,” says Strahan. “I may compliment a woman or a guy who looks great, but how can I ask questions when the answers mean nothing to me? My idea of a great outfit is a football uniform with mud and blood all over it.” No worries: The Live after show will feature a red-carpet fashion critique by two guys not afraid to go there—Carson Kressley and Lawrence Zarian.

Risky Business: This year’s emcee, Chris Rock, and the four acting winners are invited to drop by…but will they? “We’ve done really well with that in past years,” Strahan notes, “but it’s all very unpredictable.” Thus, ruthless tactics are required. “Last year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, agreed to do our show and Kelly went out and partied with him and wouldn’t let him out of her sight. She was like, ‘No way are you ducking out on this!’”

Live With Kelly and Michael’s After Oscar Show airs in national syndication Monday, Feb. 29 at 9am/8c (check local listings)