NAB 2006: An Honor for ‘Live’s’ Philbin

Apr 24, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Regis Philbin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Broadcasters during a luncheon this week at NAB’s annual convention in Las Vegas. In January TelevisionWeek named Mr. Philbin and his co-host Kelly Ripa Syndication Personalities of the Year. The following is an excerpt of an interview TelevisionWeek National Editor Michele Greppi conducted with Mr. Philbin and Ms. Ripa, first published in our Jan. 23 issue.

No show does banter better than “Live With Regis and Kelly.”

Many have tried-more than 60, including a number of shows hosted by personalities who have sat in one of “Live’s” chairs as guest co-host-and have failed over the course of Regis Philbin’s 23 years as talkmeister of “Live.”

“Live” debuted in New York as “The Morning Show” in 1983, a local show created by Mr. Philbin at ABC-owned WABC-TV. A handful of co-hosts later, it was nationally syndicated by Buena Vista Television in 1988 with Mr. Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford as co-hosts.

Kelly Ripa, who had found fame-and her husband, Mark Consuelos-on ABC’s “All My Children,” was the winner of a months-long search for Ms. Gifford’s successor in 2001, and critics agree that in the five years since “Live” has never been faster, funnier, lighter or more full of laughter.

TelevisionWeek: Your show, probably more than any, just continues to do what it does and sort of what it has always done. What is the secret to that?

Kelly Ripa: Regis is the secret, I think.

TVWeek: But beyond Regis, what does it say about the audience?

Regis Philbin: I think they enjoy hearing something fun, something light, something entertaining.

Ms. Ripa: But listen, why is it fun and entertaining? It’s fun and entertaining because you, and I said this before, I think, are the best storyteller ever. I am so engaged, I can listen to him tell the same story 35 times. I’m never tired of it. It is amazing. You know, we had dinner in Nevis [in the Caribbean]. And it’s the same gang that we always, you know, the gang, the big dinner. And everybody around the table said the same thing: Regis is missing, because he wasn’t there to sort of move the story line of the dinner party along. I mean, he really has a dialogue, a narration, he’s like a narrator of things, and without him, it’s a void, it’s a hole. And so I think he is the secret of the show.

There have been a few co-hosts. But he, I think, is what people tune in to see. He’s the reason people tune in: because it’s comforting and it’s fun and they know they’re not going to have to worry about hearing anything downbeat or depressing or awful. And quite frankly, just hearing about … his trials and tribulations.

TVWeek: What is the formula for your perfect show?

Mr. Philbin: We have to have a good opening segment. It’s a high for us when everything happens right, when the audience is responsive and we have good stuff to tell them.

Ms. Ripa: It’s the fastest 20 minutes. It literally feels like 20 seconds.

Mr. Philbin: It really feels great.

Ms. Ripa: And you, when they pull up that card to go to travel trivia, it’s sad. We’re not done yet.

Mr. Philbin: And following that, if we could have some terrific guests …

TVWeek: At what point did you realize that guests felt they needed “Live” to be part of their media mix and that they got the show?

Mr. Philbin: We grew into that position. It was always tough to get guests. I started this thing in ’83, and they sit back, I think the people who represent the guests and who manage them, sit back and watch and see what kind of a show it is. Is anybody going to get hurt? Is anybody watching? Is there any rating to this? And through the years, I think, we’ve only improved our reputation. Now I think we get practically everybody.

Ms. Ripa: Everybody that we want. Yeah.

TVWeek: But do you remember one morning or one day looking at the booking wall and thinking …

Mr. Philbin: I think it got better through the years, and the last five years with Kelly have really been the best. I think we get the best guests now, since she’s been on the show.

Ms. Ripa: It has nothing to do with me.

Mr. Philbin: No, c’mon.

TVWeek: As a viewer, I say it’s the combination of the two of you.