Saturday, July 13, 2024

Regis Philbin Turning in His Grave: Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos Have a 3 Day Work Week on Formerly “Live” Show


The late, great Regis Philbin is spinning in his grave.

For years and year, Regis showed up faithfully at 7 Lincoln Square every morning by 8:30am and hosted “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” Kathie Lee Gifford, too. They did shows five days a week, often holidays. They rarely took vacations or had substitutes in the studio.

But you know, that was a long time ago.

Now “Live with Kelly and Mark” is no longer “live” five days a week. Or four. The married couple, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, are working three days a week. According to the show’s website, “Live” will have just 14 live episodes in May. Each week they will work in three day bunches. On two of those they will tape an extra show.

The whole reason and magic of Regis Philbin’s show was that he and wife Joy, and Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, were out on the town at least three nights a week. They went to Broadway openings, movie premieres, concerts. They went to cocktail parties where they ran into other famous people. They had adventures. And then the next morning they’d talk about what they did the previous night.

But when Gifford left, the format of the show started to change. The “host chat,” was it was called under Regis’s terms with Kathie Lee and then Kelly Ripa, became one sided on Regis’s part. Ripa had young children and did not go out much. The stories, from past and present, fell to Reege.

Then Regis retired. Ripa was hosting with Michael Strahan. They knew no one in real show business and didn’t really socialize. Little by little the structure of host chat became scripted, with the co-hosts reading prepared stories “found in the newspaper.” It was an utter bore. I turned it off. The whole charm of the show was blown.

Ryan Seacrest, a celebrity born in a mall, succeeded Strahan. He’s a drone who works around the clock and wants to no one to know about his personal life, if he has one. Neither he nor Kelly went anywhere at night. Seacrest’s only anecdotes came from hosting “American Idol” in the late winter and early spring. The host chat was now 90% scripted about who eats pretzels in the bathtub and what to do if your cat starts talking to you. I thought about actually working out in the mornings. (I didn’t do it, don’t worry.)

Now the Conseulos couple has kicked “Live” to the curb. Three days a week only? Regis, I can tell you, is horrified in heaven. He and Dean Martin and Jerry Vale are sitting at a table at Elaine’s. You can hear them down here. “Can you believe it?” Regis is saying. “I built that whole formula. And they’ve destroyed it.”

And you know, people still watch. The ratings are good- 1.2 million average every morning. The age group is young mothers who buy stuff, so the advertisers are happy. There’s no real competition. “Dr. Phil” is leaving the air. “Drew Barrymore” gets half that number. So the show can do whatever it wants.

But what a sad turn of events.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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