Home Television UPDATE: Regis Philbin Is Leaving His Show, Not Retiring

UPDATE Regis Philbin announced this morning he’s leaving “Live with Regis and Kelly.” He’ll be 80 years old in August.

He is not retiring, friends tell me. Not at all. He will continue to perform live at clubs and casinos around the country. Regis will likely wind up hosting a nighttime game show like his very successful ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

This also has nothing to do with health issues. “He’s never been better,” says a source.

I am told there was some sort of negotiation with Disney and ABC. It may be that Philbin decided enough was enough after 28 years.

“I can’t imagine what’s going on at Disney and WABC,” a source observed this morning. “They’re losing Regis in the morning and Oprah in the afternoon.”

I’m told the decision to leave was “organic.” It may also have to do with Regis and Joy’s daughters living in Los Angeles. They could be contemplating a move or a lifestyle change.

Regis is one of a kind. He invented the format that’s been so successful–the host chat that takes place in the first 15 to 20 minutes of his live–not taped–show. The great charm of the host chat came from Regis’s wonderful off the cuff monologues, not jokes, but rambling stories of what he’d been up to in the 24 hours since we’d last seen him on TV. Often the anecdotes involved misadventures concerning Regis and his bw (beautiful wife) Joy, their daughters JJ and Joanna, their cats, and — in the early years of the show–Joy’s mother and sister, who were nicknamed, wickedly, The Winds of War and “Hello, let’s eat!”

I don’t want this to sound like a eulogy for Regis. He’s very much alive. I’ve been lucky to to have enjoyed a nice friendship with Regis and Joy over the years. They are true mensches, the nicest people imaginable, landmark New Yorkers who’ve enriched our lives personally and professionally. I think at 80 Regis will deserve a break; who needs to get up every morning at 7am and plug all those movies, TV shows, Broadway fare, and blatant celebrity?

Can anyone replace Regis? Not really. He’s a storyteller from another era, pre computers and Facebook. For Regis “Social networking” means going out and doing things. When he is out, he and Joy are always asking questions. They are not wallflowers. They aren’t texting anyone. They’re people who engage. ABC has tried a bunch of substitutes over the years including Howie Mandel, Anderson Cooper, and so on. None of then have Regis’s joie de vivre, his complete surprise at the world around him, and his ebullience. So let’s enjoy him for the next seven months like never before!

9 replies to this post
  1. I have to agree with Sandra J’s post dated 1/19/2011. I have witnessed him forgetting important information concerning the guest being interviewed. Kelly does a great job at saving him any kind of embarassment. I love Regis but I do think it’s time for him to pass the torch. I’ve been watching since its beginning and stopped tuning in a year or two ago. The show became stale. Loved the chemistry between Kelly and Fitz on the January 24 show. Actually sat and watched the show.

  2. I was so sad to hear that Regis will be leaving the show. He is the show. There is nobody who could ever replace him. If this is a money issue, I think ABC will live to regret it. The show will die without him. Good luck, Regis. Thanks for so many years of wonderful entertainment. I look forward to seeing you in your next endeavors!

  3. “Can anyone replace Regis? Not really. He’s a storyteller from another era…”

    Spot on, Roger.

    I heard some young comics mocking Dick Clark and Regis. They dont know what they are speaking of.

    It used to be that entertainers started off slow and were brought along slowly and developed their own deep personalities. I think those days are gone.

    Today the trend is to get as much attention as early as possible, regardless of if the entertainer is ready for it. The easiest way to get attention is to be mean and catty- which is what TMZ et al promote.

    Take Robert Di Nero’s recent speech, which was obviously written for him, on the occasion of his receiving a Life Time achievement award. It read like a Comedy Central roast instead of a career achievement. I cant see people like Hackman, or Jack Lemmon ever giving such a thing.

  4. Can’t everyone see? Regis is getting a little forgetful like a lot of older people and I don’t think he wants to keep on until he gets embarrassing. I am 65 and can’t remember anything. I love Regis and Kelly Live. I wish he didin’t have to go. I just pray that they will replace him with Mark. Love you “Regis

  5. oops…I left out the letter M in the word “artform” above. Could someone make the correction and then eliminate this post, if you are going to post my ortiginal comment? Thanks. SP

  6. Even Regis will admit it was Jack Paar who started telling off-the-cuff stories about his personal life as part of his monologues on TV. First, when he was hosting CBS’s Morning Show in 1954, and then Paar made it into an artfor when he took over the Tonight show on NBC in 1957.

What do you think?

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