It seems 2011 is on track to be the year of retirement for TV icons. First, Oprah announced she was leaving her iconic show. Then Larry King threw in the towel. Now Regis Philbin has announced he is leaving his forty year television broadcasting career behind. According to ABC News, Regis announced his retirement on Monday’s Live with Regis and Kelly show.
Regis’ Retirement Ends Four Decade TV Legacy
Regis, 79, has been a fixture on daytime TV for over 40 years. He has hosted Live for the last 28 years. Regis began his daytime TV career in 1964 as the host of The Regis Philbin Show. In 1967, he starred as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on the Joey Bishop Show. He was also the original host of the popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Live’s incarnations have seen co-hosts Kathy Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa. The one constant on Live has been Regis.
Regis’ On-Air Behavior Prompts Talk of Retirement
Live viewers have become increasingly concerned with Regis’ on-air behavior in recent years. Some believed his behavior to be a reflection of the Regis brand of humor. Others pointed out that Regis is getting on in years and believed his on air mistakes to be a sign that it was time for him to leave the popular show.
Case in point: In 2009, Regis freaked out guest Meryl Streep when he announced on-air that her daughter had broken her leg. Seems Regis had just misread the cue card and in actuality Streep’s daughter Grace had just gotten her big break. Streep laughed off the incident, but appeared visibly shaken. In November 2010, Regis fondled the rear end of singer Nicki Minaj and made reference to his inability to get an erection during her appearance on Live. During a visit by the cast of Jersey Shore, Regis repeatedly referred to Snookie as “Snoozie”. At first, everyone thought it was just a humorous play on words. But when Regis asked one of Snookie’s Jersey Shore male castmates if he had ever dated “Snoozie,” it was clear he was genuinely confused.
The Show Must Go On…But Does Ripa Really Need a Co-Host
The question everyone is asking is who will replace Regis? While certainly no one can recreate Regis’ combination of decades of experience, respect and humor, some familiar names have been bandied about. The short list includes Ripa’s husband Mark Consuelos, Anderson Cooper, Marc McGrath, Jeff Probst, Ryan Seacrest, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Griffin, Wayne Brady, Ricky Gervais, Bryant Gumbel and Mario Lopez. But does Ripa really need a co-host?
Ripa Has Taken the Helm Before
Ripa has had more and more experience in recent years taking charge of Live. Regis has struggled with some serious health issues, including a triple heart bypass in 2007 and a hip replacement in 2009. Regis’ frequent absences from Live have left Ripa to share hosting duties with a revolving door of male co-hosts. This has allowed Ripa to develop some impressive hosting chops and interview skills, proving that she can more than hold her own as the lead host of Live.
Ripa has the warmth, sassiness and intelligence of a great talk show host. She is an experienced interviewer and the public, as well as the guests on Live, genuinely like her. Plus, she has a wackiness about her and does a great job in the zany Live sketches, spoofs and Halloween episodes.
Could Ripa Be the New Oprah?
Regis’ departure opens the door for Ripa to transform Live into the hippest talk show on TV. With Oprah departing her show later this year, there is a definite daytime talk vacuum which Ripa could fill. Regis is irreplaceable and Live shouldn’t try to replace him. Why not give Kelly Ripa a shot at her own show? She could just turn out to be the new Oprah.