Regis era comes to an end on TV

Life After Regis. The Regis Philbin era in daytime TV has ended, at least for now, as the longtime host bid farewell to his audience Friday. So now what?

Well, Kelly Ripa has a long-term deal with what's for now called "Live! With Kelly" so don't expect her to vanish, too. Jerry Seinfeld will co-host the first post-Regis week (actually three days because of the holiday), and Neil Patrick Harris will step in for the week after that.

But a top executive at the show's production company has reportedly said it could be six months or more before the program settles on Reege's permanent replacement.

"We're just not going to rush this," said Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Co. He told the New York Times that "there is no deadline. If the press starts writing in six months that nothing is happening, that won't matter. We are going to take our time."

Not that he lacks for candidates.


"This is a great job," he told the Times. "We're hearing from a lot of people who want it."

And putting a successor in place too quickly could cause problems, Iger added, by inviting too immediate a comparison to Philbin.

"It's better to put a little space in there," he said.

Of course, anyone following Philbin will be compared. The situation recalls what Russell Baker said when he was asked to follow Alistair Cooke as host of "Masterpiece Theatre."

And, before we go on, where else can you read an analogy involving both Philbin and "Masterpiece"?

Anyway, Baker said, "I didn't want to be the man who succeeded Alistair Cooke, but the man who succeeded the man who succeeded Alistair Cooke."

A little space, indeed.

Back to Regis. Still vigorous, with a loyal audience, Philbin did not seem to need to depart the morning show, prompting speculation that he was shown the door. Nor has he been very forthcoming about his decision. The Hollywood Reporter noted recently that Philbin has been "cryptic" at best about why he left.


THR's sources said Philbin wanted to take more time off from the show, when he already had a lot of vacation, and he expected to be paid well. (Philbin has denied there was a conflict over salary.) The publication said the show was "still willing to pay him a lot, but not as much as he had been getting."

The talk of a pay cut left Philbin feeling slighted, THR said.

"That appears to have triggered his decision to quit the show and seek other options in show biz. He has said in interviews they never got to a discussion of salary specifics, which seems to be true, because he walked when they said it would be for less."

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