Robin Roberts Returns To 'Good Morning America'

Associated Press,

NEW YORK — Robin Roberts made her return to ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday, five months to the day after receiving a bone marrow transplant and a year since she started feeling symptoms of the ailment that has sidelined her since August.

Roberts looked thin and didn't bother to cover her hair loss with a wig. She wore a wide smile in taking her seat next to co-host George Stephanopoulos on TV's top-rated morning show.

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"I have been waiting 174 days to say this," Roberts said. "Good morning, America."

The bulk of the ABC show turned into a celebration of her return as she's recovering from MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease. President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and basketball star Magic Johnson all sent taped greetings.

At the studio, ABC boss Anne Sweeney, news division President Ben Sherwood and Katie Couric all stood in the wings watching. When Roberts thanked her nurses on the air, all of the show producers in the control room a floor away stood and applauded. Sherwood delivered a champagne toast on the set after the show went off the air at 9 a.m.

"Can I go home now?" Roberts said, before delivering a tearful thank you to her colleagues.

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Bottles of hand sanitizers were kept nearby for people who come into regular contact with Roberts, who must try to avoid contact with others as her immune system builds back up. The plan is for Roberts to work two or three days a week initially and her health will be closely monitored, said Tom Cibrowski, the show's senior executive producer.

Roberts said after the show that she wasn't tired and was working on adrenaline. But the bright studio lights affected her eyesight. She said she started having trouble seeing the teleprompters midway through the show.

She has a tough schedule her first week back. She's expected to co-host the show Thursday and perhaps Friday, tape an interview with first lady Michelle Obama on Friday and fly to California. She'll participate in Oscars coverage and make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars show. Even her doctor, Gail Roboz, while clearing Roberts' return, said, "we didn't exactly have in mind an interview with Michelle Obama and the Oscars this weekend."

Roberts said her doctors are watching her closely, and they told her to cool it two weeks ago during an appearance in New Orleans.

"I'm not worried about having to be here, or the need to be here," Roberts said. "I want to be here."

The return date was important psychologically because it was during Academy Awards coverage last year that Roberts said she felt bone-tired, almost unable to work, and went to the doctor shortly afterward for the blood test that turned up her disease.

She said her hair stylist came up with a wig for her to wear with bangs similar to Michelle Obama's. But Roberts said viewers had already seen her on the air with her thin layer of hair and she thought a wig would be too distracting.

"It's freeing, it really is," she said.

Amy Robach and Elizabeth Vargas largely filled in for Roberts during her absence, although there were occasional celebrity "guest hosts" like Charlie Sheen, Stephen Colbert and Jessica Simpson. The show didn't miss a beat, not losing a single week to NBC's "Today" show while she was gone, a development Sherwood admitted was a surprise. An unintended consequence was that her absence enabled an ensemble that also includes Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion to grow stronger and become more familiar to viewers, he said.

The "Today" show sent a gift basket that "Good Morning America" displayed in its studio, and gave Roberts an on-air welcome.

"She's looking and feeling great," said NBC's Savannah Guthrie. "And I know we're all really happy for her."

The return of Roberts, which Sherwood called "a day that we all rejoice," could also give ABC new momentum in the contest for morning television dominance. NBC's top anchor, Matt Lauer, is on vacation this week.

"Having Robin back is going to take us to new levels, to new heights," Cibrowski said.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
  • 1.
    4.0/14
  • 2.
    1.7/6
  • 3.
    1.3/5
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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