In a desperate attempt to shore up her marriage, Kelly Ripa is hiring her husband Mark Consuelos as her love interest on her sitcom “Hope & Faith.”

Kelly pushed producers of her ABC series to sign Mark to guest star on three episodes so he can remain with her and their three children in New York, sources told The ENQUIRER.

He’ll play a baseball player named “The Gooch” who moves into the house next door–and quickly falls for Kelly. The episodes are expected to air in February, just in time for sweeps weeks.

And Kelly thinks producers might agree to keep Mark on the show for the rest of the season!

In our September 13 issue, The ENQUIRER reported that the couple had some nasty fights during the past year over Mark’s decision to take acting roles in distant locations, leaving the “Live with Regis and Kelly” host to look after their children while she works through a grueling TV schedule.


Two years ago, he traveled all the way to Australia to film the movie “The Great Raid.” And he recently was flying to Toronto on a regular basis for the Lifetime network show “Missing.”

While Kelly’s spokesperson told The ENQUIRER “there’s no trouble in the marriage,” the rep didn’t deny that Kelly, 34, and Mark, 33, fought over his traveling for work, saying, “All married couples argue.”

“But it was really a lot worse than that!” a source close to the couple told The ENQUIRER.

“Kelly was at her wit’s end–she was battling to save her marriage and pretty much had it with his Toronto gig.”

An insider told The ENQUIRER that Mark’s work in Toronto “did not sit particularly well with Kelly, since it meant that to see Mark on a regular basis, either she had to fly up to Canada or he had to come back to New York on the weekends.

“But Mark had desperately wanted to get back into acting. He complained bitterly that he’d gone from being a soap opera stud that female fans drooled over to being known as Mr. Kelly Ripa. And he wasn’t happy.


“It had caused a lot of friction and fighting between him and Kelly.

“So she came up with what she thought was the perfect solution, one that would finally get their marriage back on track.

“When she found out that producers and writers wanted to create a new love interest for her character, Kelly piped up, ‘I’ve got just the guy for the job!’

“The idea was to bring Mark on for just three episodes during sweeps weeks. But Kelly believes that if everything works out, they might agree to keep his character for the rest of the season.

“At least, that’s what she hopes.

“As Kelly excitedly told a friend, ‘Mark and I were never happier than when we were lovers on “All My Children.” And our sex life was hot, hot, hot!’

“She figures that if she and Mark can recapture a little bit of that passion and excitement by working together on ‘Hope & Faith,’ it will do wonders for their relationship.”

Kelly’s publicist denied that she hired her husband to patch up their marriage.

But according to an insider, Kelly told a friend: “The kids will have their daddy around. They really missed him. So did I.

“Now everyone wins!”