NEWS10 live in Times Square for Roberts' return to GMA
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.
"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
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.
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
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
"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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