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Posted at 4:12 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Regis Philbin stepping down as host of 'Live! with Regis and Whoever' [video]

By Lisa de Moraes

[This blog post has been updated]

Regis Philbin announced he will step down from his weekday talk show. (ABC News)

Rege is retiring!

Regis Philbin announced Tuesday morning that this is his last season as host of his infotainment show "Live! with Regis and Whoever." His current contract to do the show expires this year.

Here's how it went, in case you missed it:

Rege: I've got one of those announcements to make today. Yeah. You know, every now and then, you have an announcement to make around here. And I don't want to alarm anybody, but I have to tell you this because it's going to happen and the station needs to know and Gelman needs to know and we all need to know. But this will be my last year on this show.

Audience: Awwww....

After Rege's announcement, Disney, which owns the outfit that syndicates his show, sent out an email alerting the press that the "Live!" franchise will continue, Rege-less and that "in the coming months Disney/ABC Television Group" will be naming a new co-host "to join the talented and captivating Kelly Ripa." Presumably, one who will be paid paid less -- Forbes reported that his contracted previous to his current one was worth more than $20 million.

And, hopefully one who can goose "Live's!" ratings. Now that Oprah is retiring from daytime talk show syndication, all syndicators are making a play to take over her reign as Queen of daytime talk TV. And "Live!" isn't that far behind. For the week that ended Jan. 2 -- the most recent for which Nielsen syndicated stats are available -- Oprah clocked 6.2 million viewers while "Live!" logged just under 4 million. And there are lots more daytime viewers out there. that same week, syndicated "Wheel of Fortune" averaged nearly 12 million viewers and "Jeopardy" logged more than 9 million.

Back to Rege breaking the news to his audience today:

Rege: No. I know. It's been 28 years since I've been here and it was the biggest thrill of my life to come back to New York where I grew up as a kid watching TV in the early days.....(blah, blah, blah).....And look at this over here! [He puts his arm around Kelly.]

Audience: [Wild cheers and applause...]

Rege: So -- there is -- there is a time that, you know, everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people. So anyway, folks, I just want you to know that. Plenty of room to go. This is going to happen at the end of summer. Into the fall. Whatever it is, we don't know that yet. But just so that you know, okay? But we'll have a lot of fun between now and then, come on! Gelman's back. That's fun, right there!

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa in 2004. (ABC)

Kelly (her blonde hair bobbing): I think I can only speak for America and all of us here when I say it is -- been a pleasure and a privilege and a dream come true and I wish I could do something to make you change your mind.

Rege: Well, now WAIT a minute!

Kelly: Now wait a second!

Audience: [Guffaws]

Rege: Wait a minute!

Kelly: Just a second!

Rege: We could reach an agreement here!

[Kelly looks coyly at audience. Audience titters]

Rege: That's very sweet of you, Kelly. I appreciate that.

Kelly: I love listening to you every day.

Rege: Just yesterday, we had an interview together and of course I was not allowed to tell anyone this because, God forbid it should leak out.

Kelly (who has never let Rege get in the last word so why should she start now): I was just thinking about that just five seconds ago.

Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee in 1996. (ABC)

Rege: The general manager called for me and Gelman and Art and Kelly and... so that's's time for the word to be released.But, yesterday, we had a terrific interview with a guy, we rarely do interviews together but this is the TV Guide guy. What was his name again? Isn't that funny? I cannot think of his name. Began with a D... Danielle? No. It was a guy. Anyway, it happened to be a terrific reporter

Kelly: He's going to think we're insane, by the way, because everything we said now suddenly seems untrue.

Rege: Yeah. So he said to me so, how long are you going to stay? See -- there's another announcement: Kellly is going to go into her TENTH year on this show and we'll be announcing that as well.

Kelly (putting on her Sincere Face because she's about to deliver some serious hooey): It somehow seems less important now.

Rege: No, no, no. But that's what he was talking to her about, to her and to me and he said to me, how long you going to stay?

Kelly: No, he said, will you two celebrate your 20th anniversary together? And so Regis says, he goes, 'You know, honestly, I really don't know. I really can't say.'

Kelly (smiling brightly): And I looked at him and I said, 'Trust me, I'll go before he will.' So goodbye, everyone!

Rege: I feel badly about, you know, not telling him. Sworn to secrecy here. So that was an interesting situation.

So, there you have it. To recap: Rege is leaving. Kelly blindsided.

For all you serious students of TV out there: "LIVE" was originally called "The Morning Show" when Rege created it for ABC's flagship station, NYC's WABC, in the early 80's. It became the No. 1 show in that market, which is country's biggest TV market.

Kathie Lee Gifford -- who now co-hosts the tail end of NBC's "Today" show -- joined Rege on his show in June of 1985 and, a little more than three years later, the program debuted in national syndication with a new name: "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee." Ripa joined the show in 2001 which means, yes, she is about to celebrate her 10th annivesary with the program.

What's your reaction to the Regis Philbin announcement?

Who should replace Regis Philbin?

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 18, 2011; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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This may be one of the worst columns I've ever read about television. I'm not sure why the author felt the need to be snide, but this is breaking news about a man who is, in fact, a television legend.

Sadly, the columnist felt the need to be unprofessional and to get a few licks in at Mr. Philbin's co-host, who I am sure the columnist has never met. Even an eighth-grader can read between the lines and sense that the author harbors intensely jealous feelings towards Ms. Ripa.

The columnist also seems to think that honest reactions from the live audience merits additional snide commentary.

Is this really the state of journalism at the Washington Post? Are there no editors left who can hand back copy and tell the writer that she "didn't have the story?"

What's especially unfortunate here is that THIS is the story that represents the Washington Post online and in Google searches.

Well, shame on The Post, a venerable newspaper that some people still care about. I think an editor with a sense of decorum and finesse, an editor with intelligence and an understanding of entertainment history should re-write this piece and have a true news story represent the Post.

Right now, all we have is bitterness and petulance. If I owned The Post, I would fire the author because she clearly has no clue as to the importance of Mr. Philbin's retirement, nor an understanding that Ms. Ripa is not some twit ripe for a condescending rebuke.

Shame on Ms. de Moraes and equal shame to whomever wrote the equally ridiculous headline.

Seriously, how low is journalism going to go before it buries itself? Ms. de Moraes is obviously one of the diggers holding a shovel.

My disappointment in the coverage of this national story, a story rife with the aura of genuine television history, runs deep. The Post needs to do better. Its readers deserve better.

Posted by: JudeWharton | January 18, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Pretty snarky, Ms. de Moraes.

Posted by: Sandydayl | January 18, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Ditto to the comments on the quality and tone of the know Kelly is a local girl don't you Lisa?

That being a life Regis has had as the Prince of New York...what fun to be him!

My money would go on Mark Consuelos as the replacement!

Posted by: SoCali | January 18, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

As a boy I lived in Southern California in the mid-1960s. I have memories of a local daytime TV personality that was either Regis or someone much like him. He's been on TV a long time. I guess I'll have to check his bio to see if he goes that far back. Glad it appears that he is able to retire while in good form/shape.

Posted by: jjj33 | January 18, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow, what a poorly written column. What the heck is that all about? In fact, it's mostly information redacted from the video. I don't know what the Washington Post calls this, but it sure isn't journalism. It's not intelligent criticism. It's not even good writing. It's lazy, crude, and lacking facts and information. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa certainly deserved better than whatever this is that the newspaper decided to toss online. There is definitely an appalling tone of bitterness throughout.

Regis Philbin is a certified legend. His retirement is news all over the country. Blogs such as this are a sorry example of the waste of time, money, and energy in giving anybody with a computer the chance to spout off on anything. Did any thought go into this article? After reading it, I would have to write that none did. You know, there are still people who like newspapers and enjoy reading them. But what we want to read are stories about events such as this that are rooted in fact, and opinions that are noteworthy, have merit, and make us think. The only thing I thought after reading this mess is that somebody's getting paid for doing nothing special.

Posted by: glassmovie | January 18, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Redacted" from the video glassmovie? I don't know what you call this but english it ain't.

Lisa de Moraes is the best TV columnist in the country bar none. If you want a fawning lapdog, pick up a copy of People or Us Weekly.

Somehow, I don't think Regis would be offended. This is his schtick too. And Lisa was kind enough not to note Regis' final appearance on the Joey Bishop show.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | January 18, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Ajlerner1 must be a friend of de Moraes. It sure reads like a friend wrote the above. Anyway, "redacted" is a great, legitimate word and is used correctly. Ajlerner1 needs a dictionary. Regardless, the reason why I'm writing is to also state that I found the column snarky and very rude and wildly over-the-top. It doesn't read as if much effort went into it. I also want to wish Regis Philbin well. He has been a great TV host, and I have also enjoyed Kathie Lee and Kelly with him.

Posted by: vitotuscany | January 18, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree, completely snarky.

But then again, I read Lisa specifically because she is snarky.

That's what she does. And she does it better than most.

Don't ever change Lisa!

Posted by: Vingold | January 18, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

" know Kelly is a local girl don't you Lisa?"

New Jersey isn't local to DC.

Posted by: Vingold | January 18, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Lisa's articles are always snarky; that's why those of us who are fans read them and participate in the chat she does. If you don't appreciate the tone of her writing, there are many, many places on the web that you can read instead. You found your way here, feel free to find your way out.

I'm not a friend of Lisa's, I couldn't pick the woman out of a lineup if there was money in it for me.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | January 18, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

To jjj33: It was and he does. It's been sad to see how he's deteriorated over these past few years. It's time. And to everyone else, yes, the "journalist" behaved just awfully. She and the Post ought to be ashamed.

Posted by: spazmazilla | January 18, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I love Lisa's snark. But I also love Kelly. And it would have been nice to have a few comments on Regis.

Posted by: justsayin | January 18, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Since I led off the criticism of the critic, I'll respond. Snarky is amateurish. It's unprofessional. That added to the fact that the column was utterly devoid of style and much information enhacnes its failure. It's not something worthwhile or lasting or important. It's like reading some twisted little twelve-year old hiding in her bedroom carping about her classmates. What kind of person thinks writing stupid negative little comments about famous people contributes to journalism or to the integrity of the field? Too bad The Post pays for snark. No wonder it's losing money. I'd fire her and help the bottom line.

Posted by: JudeWharton | January 18, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"Lisa de Moraes is the best TV columnist in the country bar none. If you want a fawning lapdog, pick up a copy of People or Us Weekly."

We have a winner.

Posted by: WorstSeat | January 18, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

You can't call somebody "the best TV columnist" in the country UNLESS you've read EVERY TV COLUMNIST in the country. I doubt you've read every TV columnist. That's basic English Writing 101. You could have written that she is "ONE of the better TV columnists in the country" and gotten away with that.

There's a serious lack of grammatical and theoretical discipline in this country, and your statement proves it WorstSeat. There are myriad columnists who write about television, and you have to know their work to make a value judgement such as the one you made. For starters, Bill Carter at the New York Times would eat Lisa de Moraes for breakfast. The Post's own Tom Shales is light years better than Ms. de Moraes.

Additionally, nothing in Ms. de Moraes's crude and infantile column about Regis's leaving his show indicates any knowledge of television production or sense of the history of television. Her awareness of how TV programs are put together and what makes a television personality click with an audience is lacking.

The column in question reveals nothing more than an ability to be rude, jealous, and dismissive about things with an off-hand remark. That's a playground talent, nothing more.

Ms. de Moraes also has to explain her slanderous comment about Ms. Ripa "lying to the press." Sorry, but on every level "this dog don't hunt." This is a very nasty column filled with inanities and utterly without substance. Ms. de Moraes failed her readers here. She also failed her journalistic field. Sitting in front of a television and then writing backstabbing comments about people is not good writing, nor is it informative. It's just plain old high school nastiness.

Posted by: JudeWharton | January 19, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Gosh, you'd think this was an election. I had no idea Ms. De Moraes was such a polarizing figure. Keep up the good work shnookums and don't let all this attention go to your head! Or wait, do let it go to your head and let it show in your writing, that sounds highly entertaining.

Posted by: jtinyaface | January 19, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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