Local

Regis Philbin looks back on career

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Regis Philbin started his TV career 50 years ago in 1960. He's been a game show host, talk show host and a singer. Now Regis is moving on, leaving the LIVE! with Regis and Kelly show. This Friday, he'll say goodbye to the show he started in 1983, and I talked with him about his career.

In the heart of New York City, hundreds line up bright and early outside TV station WABC.

"Just the excitement of the live taping will be a lot of fun," a fan said.

All are hoping to catch a glimpse of Regis Philbin before he calls it quits after three decades on live television.

"He's an icon, and he is about to retire, and Kelly is gorgeous and I am looking forward to seeing her," another fan said.

Michael Gelman has served as executive producer and off-stage sidekick for 28 years.

"I'm the appetizer, I get them a little hungry for the main event, which is when they come out," Gelman said.

The live audience provides the hour's worth of energy. But it's during the breaks when Philbin and co-host Kelly Ripa are at their best -- up close and personal with their fans.

When it was my turn to interview them, I was faced with a new challenge in TV.

"I have to tell you this is something brand new for me, to conduct an interview in front of a studio audience," I said.

"Well, look how hostile they look!" Kelly said jokingly.

"They are all big fans of Regis and Kelly, you know Dave, so you better watch your step," Regis joked.

"What's this guy really like off camera?" I asked Kelly.

"Sweetest guy in the world," Regis joked.

"No, he is exactly what you see is what you get," Kelly said.

In true Regis fashion, it wasn't long before he turned the interview on me.

"But anyway Dave, so what were you doing when you saw Bishop and me back in the 60s?

"That was '67?" I asked him.

"Right," he said.

"Were you an anchorman then, were you a reporter, what were you?" he asked me.

"Yes, I was at Channel 13 then," I said.

"Always an anchor?" Regis asked.

"Yes, I have been there 45 years," I said.

"Forty-five?!" he asked.

"That's amazing!" Kelly said.

"The two of you work so well together. Kelly, what are you going to do when this guy is gone?" I asked her.

"I want to hear this," Regis chimed in.

"Well, the first thing we are going to do is turn his office into a disco/night club," Kelly said. "I don't even want to think about it, because he has been part of my life longer than he knows."

But the question on everyone's mind is, what's next? And it won't be retirement.

"There's other things you are going to do," I said.

"Moving on, Dave, moving on to the next assignment," he said.

"Right, well I am still stuck in the same damn dead-end job I've been in for 45 years," I said.

"Now Dave is getting hot. Dave is getting mad damn it! Dave is sick and tired of entertaining you! What did you ever do for Dave?!" Regis said, cracking up the entire audience.

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