By the time Regis Philbin says goodbye to ABC Daytime and Disney this coming November, the network will look like an abandoned parking lot. No Oprah, no Susan Lucci. Two months later, Erika Slezak and “One Life to Live” will be gone as well. Except for “The View,” ABC will be a blank during daylight hours. And of course “General Hospital,” which is closer to the guillotine than Marie Antoinette on a good day. Looming large: how to replace Regis after all these years?
Philbin patented what has become his show’s hallmark: the talk chat. Regis’s first person accounts, unscripted, of his life are organic. He’s cast himself as a Little Guy fighting to keep up, and it works. Whoever ABC and Disney bring in, they’ll be known. And they won’t have Regis’s charm. Now I’m told that Regis could be persuaded to change his mind, maybe, if ABC and Disney will do right by him. This isn’t just money. It’s about his schedule.
Philbin already has 12 weeks of vacation a year, and works most weeks only four days. Could he do a three day week? I think the audience doesn’t care. They’ll take what they can get. Is it money? If ABC and Disney would show Reege a little love, they could have it all: the real star of “Live with Regis and Kelly” three days a week, and younger hosts as fill ins.
Would he really do it? My sources say Regis’s wife, Joy, who will guest host on June 13th (and we love it when she does), is happy to see Regis give up the morning grind. Regis has told friends that he doesn’t mind doing the show. “It’s just getting up and going there,” he says of his daily trip across Broadway. After all, he’s turning 80 in August.
At today’s Le Cirque lunch for the Claudia Cohen Cancer Research Foundation, Regis, Joy, executive producer Michael Gelman and his wife Laurie Hibberd all showed up to honor Cohen, their late friend and show contributor. The lunch was given by Claudia and Revlon chief Ronald Perelman‘s stunning college-attending daughter, Samantha, and Perelman himself. Among the other guests were Calvin Klein, looking spiffy in a suit and tie, and a phalanx of New York’s top doctors including honoree Dr. Anil K. Sood who received a $50,000 prize for his work in gynecological cancer.