Regis Philbin: ‘This Will Be My Last Year’
My favorite day time talk show is Regis and Kelly. I have seen this coming for awhile, Regis has been having a difficult time relating to everything current (bands, electronics ect.) Who do you think should replace him?
Regis Philbin is the latest one-of-a-kind to be stepping down from a long-held TV perch.
Philbin, who announced on-air Tuesday that he would leave Live With Regis and Kelly in late summer or early fall, joins such departing talk luminaries as Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.
“This will be my last year on this show,” Philbin told his studio audience at the start of the show. “It’s been a long time. It’s been 28 years since I’ve been here. … There is a time that everything must come to an end.”
VOTE: Who should replace him?
GALLERY: Regis in pictures, through the years
The Emmy-winning Philbin called into Late Show With David Letterman as it taped later Tuesday, and Letterman praised his friend and colleague. “I’m telling you, I’m sick about this, ladies and gentlemen, because he’s one of a kind, and television will not be the same, and it’s just — it’s making me ill. God bless Regis Philbin,” Letterman said.
Philbin, 79, who has been on TV for more than 50 years and has hosted Live since its premiere as The Morning Show in 1983, “will go down as an iconic daytime television figure,” says David Bushman, television curator at the Paley Center for Media. “His personality is so perfect for the medium. He opened up his life, almost like a reality TV star, in the sense that you know so much about his real life. His heart surgery is just one example of that. … People find an Everyman quality to him.”
Live shouldn’t make the mistake of trying to find another Regis, says Bill Carroll of Katz Television Group. “He’s a unique personality. In the same way you can’t replace Oprah, you can’t replace Regis.”
Beyond the title, the morning show, known for its free-form opening chat between Philbin and co-host Kelly Ripa, will have to be revamped, but the task is doable, Carroll says. The popular talk show faced and surmounted an earlier challenge when Ripa stepped in after Kathie Lee Gifford left in 2000.
“She has certainly proven, when Regis has not been there, that she can lead the show. Their challenge is going to be finding the right person to be paired with her,” Carroll says. “Regis and Kelly are like a father-daughter team, and it would be my guess that they’re going to go more for someone closer to her age.”
“While I realize that nothing is forever, somehow, I had always hoped there would be an exception. I can’t overstate what Regis has brought to the table. His chair might soon be empty but the wonderful moments I have experienced with him over the past 10 years will always make him a meaningful part of my life,” Ripa says.
Carroll speculates the show could test hosts on-air with Ripa, as it did after Gifford. Frequent Philbin substitutes might be early favorites, Carroll says. Among them are Survivor host Jeff Probst, actor Neil Patrick Harris and Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos.
And even the 77-year-old King, who recently ended his CNN interview show, told Inside Edition that he would “get a kick” filling in for Philbin after he leaves.
Philbin is well-suited to daytime TV, says David Scardino of ad firm RPA in Los Angeles. “He could be outrageous, but in a way that was non-threatening. And that’s a great combination for the daytime.”
Live could see some viewer turnover after his exit. “I do think there’s a bit more potential, perhaps, that somebody who has been on this long has viewers who are extremely loyal, and some may not watch a replacement,” Scardino says. “But the replacement, depending who it is, may attract some viewers who didn’t watch it.”
The show’s evolution will be especially important for ABC-owned stations that broadcast both Live and Oprah, which ends its run this year, Carroll says. “That’s a dramatic change.”
On NBC’s Today, Gifford praised Philbin and said she doesn’t expect him to disappear. “He is an amazing guy. He’s going to be 80 this August, and I think he figures it’s just time. (But) I don’t think he’ll retire. Ever. There’s tons of things he can do.”
“It’s been a joy working with Regis Philbin. Not only is he a broadcast legend, he’s been my friend, mentor and co-worker for 28 years. I understand how after his 50-plus years in front of the camera, waking up early day after day, he’s ready to step back from the daily grind. We’ll all miss him. There’s no one like Regis,” executive producer Michael Gelman says. “Live will continue and move on to the next chapter with the fantastic, talented Kelly Ripa. After 10 years of co-hosting the show, she’s a seasoned broadcaster and a terrific host, who will seamlessly take Live into the next era,” he says.