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Misses…Hits…and Tips

Mar 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Misses …

Let’s face it: A day that starts without Regis Philbin is a day that starts on the wrong side of the TV.

The Insider means no disrespect whatsoever to Kelly Ripa, who probably could share the host chat and desk with a stuffed teddy bear and get laughs to spare. Likewise the motley crew of guest co-hosts she’s taken to calling co-hunks who will keep the Reege-meister’s chair warm until he finishes recuperating from last week’s heart bypass operation. Indeed, The Insider is even warming to Damien Fahey, the spawn of MTV who was a total puzzler on “Beauty & the Geek.”

This week, “Deal or No Deal’s” Howie Mandel fills in for three days. (The Insider will keep a paper bag handy in case she hyperventilates.) Thursday and Friday promise to be fun with the smart, quick and funny Neil Patrick Harris sitting in.

“Survivor’s” Jeff Probst always plays well with Pippa, as Reeeeeege nicknamed her.

But all will not be well with the world that matters until King Philbin is back where he belongs on “Live With Regis and Kelly”&mdash:and perhaps executive producer Michael Gelman would consider welcoming the boss back by restoring the old theme song. That wail of the trumpet was another sound that meant the day was truly under way.

Greppi Woman, as Sir Philbin nicknamed The Insider in a previous incarnation, misses them both.

Hits …

“In an Instant,” the book ABC News’ Bob Woodruff and wife Lee wrote about the road back from the devastating head injuries he suffered while working outside Baghdad in January 2006, went straight to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list published yesterday. It still will be there March 25, and who knows how much longer.

Among the other TV news folk set to hit print is “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. She has written “From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By,” which is scheduled to publish in April.

NBC News correspondent Chris Hansen’s “To Catch a Predator” reports on “Dateline NBC” is now a book of the same title. Mr. Hansen made the rounds at CNN last week to support the tome.

Bill Geist, “CBS Sunday Morning’s” high-smileage humorist at large, takes a Charles Kuralt-ish turn in “Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America,” which will be published mid-May.

and Tips

The aforementioned Mr. Hansen is scheduled to appear on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” Wednesday on Comedy Central. Pedophiles. They’re a laff riot.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric is booked for “The Colbert Report” Thursday on Comedy Central. Critics have gotta give her this: She’s got steel ones to venture into this den of humiliation.

Last but by no means least: Do not, do not, do not miss MSNBC’s “War Zone Diary,” a fascinating account by Richard Engel of living and working in Iraq. He bribed his way into the country only to find himself freelancing for ABC News after the U.S. networks pulled their crews before the U.S. attacked on March 19, 2003. By April, NBC News had signed Mr. Engel, who now is senior Middle East correspondent and Beirut bureau chief.

Some scenes are not for the faint of heart, but the hour covers everything you ever wanted to know about what a journalist covering the war experiences, from how to rebuild a bureau after it’s been damaged by a bomb to losing close friends and your marriage, to the security arrangements necessary to go out and get a story and return alive. The latter Engel calls “trying to pull a fast one on history.”

“War Zone Diary” debuts at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, with several encores that night on MSNBC.