In Depth

In Their Own Words: Jim Griffin

Executive VP and director of the William Morris Agency and Regis Philbin’s longtime agent

Regis has talked about, years ago, watching Jack Paar. He would see Jack Paar come out and sit in front of the desk and just sort of talk to the people. Regis said to himself, “Well, I could do that.” He later found out Jack Paar had about 20 writers. So it wasn’t off-the-cuff.

But it really is a remarkable ability Regis has. I think any other talk show host would say the same thing. He’s exactly what he seems to be. I think we’re living in a world where people don’t get honesty. They crave honesty. When they see honesty, they react to it. He is what he is.

When he first came to New York, they brought in Bob Shanks to format the morning show. Bob believed that people had short attention spans in the morning. Regis called me and said, “Bob has the monologue or host chat at a minute and a half.” I said to him, “You know Bob. Bob is a nice guy. Have you said anything to him?” He said, “Yeah. Bob said, ‘Sure, Reege. What do you need? Another 30 seconds?’ He just doesn’t seem to understand.” The story that I heard is that the president of the ABC stations met with Bob Shanks and said, “Bob, I like the format. There’s one rule, however. However long he wants to talk, you produce around him.” And that was the key to the whole thing.