NEW YORK — The only worry on Michael Strahan’s mind when he made his entrance Tuesday as the new co-host of “Live!”: “Don’t trip,” he said afterward.

He didn’t.

When Kelly Ripa introduced him, the gap-toothed former football player jogged onto the morning show set and gathered her up in a bear hug, lifting her off her feet.

“When I was hugging Kelly, that’s when I was calming down,” Strahan said.

The rest of the hour was clearly a snap for him and for Ripa, who was getting a permanent partner nine months after Regis Philbin retired from the show and after having welcomed Strahan and 58 other guests in the chair beside her.

Taking his seat on Tuesday, the former New York Giant joked that it felt “comfy, like it was molded for my body.”

Strahan was relaxed, amiable and playful, and drew “ahhhs” from women in the studio audience when he presented Ripa with a dozen red roses.

“It’s so nice to have a co-host literally sweep you off your feet,” Ripa told viewers, “and I know that he can bench press me if he wanted to.”

Maybe his arrival was fulfilling a prophecy. Ripa played a clip of Strahan’s first appearance on the show in 2008, shortly after the Giants had won the Super Bowl. Philbin asked Strahan what he would want to do after retiring from football, and Strahan said that Philbin’s job looked pretty good.

“I was joking,” Strahan said Tuesday, “and I’m glad the joke came true.”

Strahan’s hiring has been an open secret for the past two weeks. His selection was made official a couple of minutes into what, since November, had gone by the stripped-down title “Live! With Kelly” and now rechristened “Live! With Kelly and Michael.”

Or rather, “live! with kelly and michael.” Eyeing the brand-new all-lowercase logo during a commercial break, the co-hosts pondered whether the first letters of their names would look better capitalized.

Strahan will continue as a host of “Fox NFL Sunday,” which originates from Los Angeles, where he lives. He will commute to New York to do “Live!”

How will he handle that?

“Get on a plane,” he cracked.

Sir Paul getting French rank of officer

PARIS — France’s Elysee Palace has said that former Beatle Paul McCartney has been nominated for the legion of honor for services to music.

On Tuesday, a presidential spokesman said that 70-year-old McCartney will be decorated with the rank of officer by French President Francois Hollande in a ceremony Saturday in Paris.

McCartney will join other singers to have received the honor. Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli were similarly honored by former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

McCartney — often referred to as “Sir Paul” or “Macca” in his native Britain — has already received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

R. Kelly back to the explicit with latest CD

NEW YORK — R. Kelly has been all about romance on his last two albums, but the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R&B says he isn’t going to abandon the explicit music that made him famous.

“Absolutely not, and I tell people all the time, man,” Kelly said in a phone interview last week. “Make no mistake about it, R. Kelly is not going anywhere, it’s just that R. Kelly has such a unique talent, and I’ve been blessed to be able to do all type of genres of music … I’m exploring my gift right now.”

Kelly’s recent “Write Me Back” and 2010’s “Love Letter” were a departure of sorts for the singer-songwriter, whose hits include classics like “Your Body’s Callin’.”

He said his upcoming album will be on more familiar R. Kelly ground.

“The name of my next album is ‘Black Panties’ — that’s my next ’12 Play,’ ” he said, referring to his classic album filled with sexual material.