There have only been two major overhauls of “Live With Regis and Kelly’s” New York set since it was installed a decade ago. Five years ago, the performance area was added. A couple of years later, the co-hosts’ home base was renovated.
During the last two weeks, while the show was on hiatus, carpenters, electricians and the like have been busy tweaking, updating and fluffing the set and expanding its footprint according to the plans of “Live” production designer Michael Fagin.
But when “Live’s” 19th season in syndication starts this week, the set will have that familiar look of an Upper West Side apartment with a view of Central Park through the changing seasons and a dog on the terrace.
“Live” executive producer Michael Gelman: “Many people still believe that they’re looking out on the city, because we make it snow, make it rain. And they get mad at us about the dog, you know.”
Mr. Fagin: “That we leave him out in the snow.”
Mr. Gelman: “They’re like, `It’s cold out there.”‘
Mr. Fagin: “Occasionally we let him outside [the studio] for Grill Friday.”
Mr. Gelman: “He’s ceramic, by the way.”
The “apartment” has gotten some add-ons that include more usable space along the walls on both sides of the studio.
To the audience’s right, the wall has been overhauled. In addition to the art deco door through which the co-hosts enter at the top of every show, another set of doors now hides, among other things, a rolling kitchen unit. There are horizontal stripes that can glow on command and a stack of 26-inch flat-panel TV monitors.
The opposite wall also will have glowing stripes that will help lend the performance area a sense of more space-“Most people don’t realize how small our space is because we shoot it big,” Mr. Gelman said-and more flexibility. Positioned near the guest entrance is a tower of 42-inch flat screens, the top two affixed to the wall and the bottom three rigged to be rolled into different positions.
Many of the changes were suggested by “Live” director Brian Chapman. “They’re for him to use for bumpers, for ins and outs, for the open, and to give different looks,” Mr. Gelman said.
All in all, “It is a fair amount of work,” he said. “The side of the set is going to be totally different, but [nothing major in] the main part you see on most shots.”
The biggest problem may have been what to do with the show’s signature stools, the model for “Live’s” Relly Award, which will be handed out Sept. 22, filling the vacuum left in the co-hosts’ hearts by the lack of Emmy Award recognition.
“I probably get a call every two months from an audience member trying to find the stools,” Mr. Fagin said. Alas, they’re not made anymore. Ten years old, they’re getting a little rough around the edges, so they have been resurfaced. Again.
“The set matters; it’s like your home on TV,” Mr. Gelman said.
So The Insider hereby produces the lede she buried: Trivia A Go-Go is going Grande, with a beefed-up wheel and prizes.
“The go-go booth is a big hit. People love the go-go booth. The only problem is that everyone wants to be in the go-go booth,” said Mr. Gelman. “Sometimes I incorporate it in my warm-up.”
“Guinness Week” will be back Sept. 11. Mr. Philbin himself became a Guinness World Record holder two years ago when he was recognized for having logged more hours on camera than anyone else. And keep in mind that in the last two seasons, in addition to the live daytime show, he hosted Fox’s 2005 New Year’s broadcast and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Among the records that will be attempted: cartwheels, pirouettes and tango spins, and cutting apples with a sword.
It is moments like these that make the new season feel like Christmas in September to The Insider.