After 57 years of life, most in this world are contemplating those golden years ahead, enjoying time with grandchildren, sitting back, relaxing and perhaps even remembering their best days, fondly.
Most in this world are not Regis Philbin.
Less than a month after his 57th birthday, Regis Philbin's New York based talk show, then co-hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, went national. Live with Regis and Kathie Lee was born, and would set the bar for daytime talk until this day. Philbin enjoyed a steady line of work since his first days in show business, but it wasn't until September 1988 that Regis Philbin first became a household name.
Philbin served as announcer on The Tonight Show in 1962 and later in 1967 joined The Joey Bishop Show playing sidekick to Bishop for two years until the show's cancellation. It was his first true foray into national exposure. For the next twenty years, Philbin bounced around between A.M. Los Angeles from 1975-1981, as well as a brief stint as morning show co-host alongside Mary Hart, and finally, after moving back to New York in 1982, The Morning Show on WABC-TV. Philbin was joined by previous sidekick Cyndy Garvey (from A.M. Los Angeles) and Ann Abernathy, before finally joining forces with Kathie Lee Gifford in 1985, a partnership that would last fifteen years.
Through those critical years, Philbin would go on to become one of the most well-known New Yorkers in the world, forever shedding the "sidekick" stigma he had suffered from in the late 1960s. In 2000, Kathie Lee Gifford would leave the show, leaving Regis to fend for himself on Live With Regis while he began a months-long search for a new co-host. In that time, Philbin captured his first of two Daytime Emmy Awards for Live. In 2001, actress Kelly Ripa was picked as the new co-host, allowing the aging Philbin a chance to depart the show ten years later, leaving the daytime talk series in the able hands of ever-likable Ripa.
While Philbin has enjoyed a lengthy run on Live, his most popular work didn't come until 1999, when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? first hit the primetime airwaves on ABC. Aired through special runs in 1999 and 2000, Millionaire became one of the most popular game shows of all time, hitting a peak in November 1999 when John Carpenter (not the director) became the first person to win the million dollar grand prize. When Millionaire went to a regular series, viewership slowly declined until its unofficial cancellation in 2002. It returned once in 2004 and again in 2009, however the damage was done. Still, the game show lives on in syndication, hosted by Meredith Vieria.
Philbin continued hosting duties during the next few years, including hosting the first season of NBC's America's Got Talent in 2006, as well as CBS's Password revival Million Dollar Password in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, months before announcing his departure from Live, Philbin hosted the 37th Daytime Emmy Awards.
Aside from game shows and his daytime series, Philbin also appeared on such programs as Seinfeld, Mad About You, Hope and Faith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Larry Sanders Show and Celebrity Jeopardy. If that wasn't enough for him, Regis has also written two autobiographies and released two CDs, one in 2004 ("When You're Smiling", comprised of pop standards) and another in 2005 ("The Regis Philbin Christmas Album").
Through these years, Philbin has enjoyed many crowning achievements, including three Daytime Emmy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But perhaps the most prestigious honor of all came from the Guinness World Records in 2004 when he set the record for Most Hours on Camera with 15,188 total hours. That number has since been updated to over 17,000 this year.
I remember fondly the days I stayed home from school and watched Live with Regis and Kathie Lee at 10am. Even then, Regis seemed like the hippest old guy around, a Dick Clark for his generation. He was never at a loss for words and always found a way to make you laugh. He has a peculiar way about his comedy and his way of speaking that makes you feel like you know him personally. When Kelly Ripa joined the show ten years ago, he found an equally likable and personable co-host. Not to discount Kathie Lee's efforts over the years, but Kelly really clicked with Regis on many levels. She kept up with him even when he really was out of control. And even at 80 years of age, Regis hasn't lost a beat. He's an entertainer on par with Johnny Carson, Bob Hope and David Letterman.
Regis Philbin has left a remarkable footprint on the television landscape. While the end of his run on Live comes on Friday, November 18th, one has to assume this isn't the end for Philbin. After defining a generation of daytime talk, you will be missed, Regis. Thank you for all the memories in your historic career.
**Once Upon a Time: A-**
What you need to know: Jennifer Morrison is a better actress in ten minutes of Once Upon a Time than six years on House.
What I think: Created by Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, Once Upon a Time blends the real life with fairy tales. Featuring characters such as Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Rumpelstiltsken (Robert Carlyle) and The Evil Queen (Lana Parilla), the series follows Emma Swan (Morrison) as she's pulled into a storybook world by a ten-year-old boy: her son, who hadn't met her in his life. The pilot looks amazing for television, especially a presumable afterthought on ABC's schedule, premiering one month after every other pilot. There's nothing else on TV like it right now, and could potentially fill the gap left by Lost a year ago. The acting is surprisingly solid, especially from Parilla, and the story itself is engaging. It's possible the series will veer off the rails in a season or two, but for now, enjoy the ride. It's a blast so far.
What the future holds: A fairy tale ending, if these ratings continue. The series has held steady on Sunday night.
**Allen Gregory: F**
What you need to know: The 21 minute pilot is a grueling test in patience. Good luck if you make it out with your sanity intact.
What I think: Not very much. At 21 minutes, the pilot feels more like two hours. Allen Gregory, voiced by Jonah Hill, is aggravatingly pompous, insulting every person he comes across, except his principal, with whom he falls in love in the pilot. Except she's incredibly unattractive, even in animation, which provides for cringe-inducing moments that border on offensive. Offensive to comedy, of course. Jonah Hill's voice is spot-on for what they're going for, but what they're going for is so wrong. There's nothing redeeming about Allen Gregory. He's not likable. He's not relatable. And even without those two qualities, he's not funny either. I thought Free Agents was bad, but Allen Gregory takes the cake as the worst pilot of the season. The only good thing I can say about the pilot is that it was nice hearing French Stewart again, in a "Huh, so he's still alive" sort of way.
What the future holds: I really hope nothing at all. Napolean Dynamite debuts in midseason, The Flintstones debut in 2013 and there are only so many timeslots on Sunday night. FOX doesn't need Allen Gregory. No one does.
-NBC has stopped production on Prime Suspect after 13 episodes. How will television survive without a gritty crime drama on the air?
-CBS has cut the order of Rules of Engagement's sixth season episodes from 18 to 13. On the one hand, the show has always been a good ratings performer for CBS. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who's ever watched it, or even heard of it.
-NBC has renewed Kathy Bates drama Harry's Law for a full second season. After last week's Blue Bloods news, your grandmother can't believe her good fortune.
-Tuesday on The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck took it upon herself to berate guest Bill Maher for a joke he made about her NINE months prior the appearance. That's right, instead of engaging someone with a complete 180 degree opposing view on politics, she made the 8 and a half minute interview all about herself, while pretending she wasn't at all hurt by the comment from... NINE months ago. The ladies of The View were clearly embarrassed by Elisabeth's behavior, if only because they have a comedian on the show who isn't allowed to be funny. Or to talk. Elisabeth prattled on sarcastically about how she was not "hurt" by "Billy" Maher, then told him, again sarcastically, how "brilliant" he is and how much smarter she feels next to him. That's not a joke, Elisabeth, that's the truth. Forget politics or comedy: the man came on your show to promote his book and engage mild discussion about politics and you made it all about yourself. He came off looking great while you came off looking like an immature child. Actually, most children would know better than to cause a scene.
In the tradition of Real Time With Bill Maher, I thought I'd write my own New Rule for Elisabeth:
NEW RULE: Since it's clear no one has liked Elisabeth Hasselbeck since her days in The Australian Outback, it's time she goes back to Survivor. Except this time, there's no million dollars, no 39 days, no other contestants, no cameras and you can pick any remote island in the world, Elisabeth. And stay there. You can talk endlessly with no opposition at all. Somehow, I think, she'd survive on hatred alone.
All right, thanks again for reading any or all of my column this week. It was a bit of a mash-up this week but hopefully it all worked out in the end. Any fond memories of watching Regis Philbin on television? Think he's overrated? How about thoughts on Once Upon a Time and Allen Gregory? Sound off below and keep the discussion going. I'm willing to admit I'm wrong, but only when I'm actually wrong.
Until next week, stay tuned.