“Live With Regis and Kelly” is starting the New Year with a new theme song and a high-definition look that the Disney-ABC Domestic Television syndicated daytime hit has been working toward since its last major studio makeover.
“I always say ‘evolution,’ not ‘revolution,’” “Live” executive producer Michael Gelman said. Still, “I’m excited that we are finally making it into this century.”
The new look will include crisper graphics and an opening that puts co-hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa in the context of New York City. It debuts along with the new theme Jan. 5, when the show returns from the holiday hiatus.
Also planned is “Drive Into HD,” one of “Live’s” trademark watch-and-win contests, in which a 2009 Subaru Forester tricked out to an estimated value of $31,000 will be given away during the week of Jan. 19.
It’s an exercise in audience participation that “Live” and executive producer Mr. Gelman have refined over the show’s 20 years in national syndication. This time, the daily clues are going to be doled out on-air within the encore broadcasts and online through Jan. 2, after which viewers can enter by Web or the old-fashioned way as many times as they want for a shot at winning the car.
When “Live” decided a new theme song was in order, it created a contest that was open to amateurs and pros.
The winner was pianist Gabriel Saientz, a 35-year-old professional musician from Argentina by way of Miami. He spent a mid-December week in New York, where he picked up an oversized check for $100,000 on the show and spent time in the studio prepping his theme for its debut, in addition to meeting with Def Jam Music Group Chairman L.A. Reid and Willam Morris agents.
Mr. Gelman, who loves nothing more than to tease, has not played even a snippet of the new theme for outsiders. But Mr. Saientz describes it as “a lively, happy theme song that goes with their personalities, and with the audience.”
Familiar elements of the set are being spruced up—tables worn from use are being resurfaced, for example. However, the backdrop that brings a Central Park view into the windowless studio, which initially was scheduled to replaced by a hi-def version, will live on in the low-def mesh version that proved to add a nice touch of softness, Mr. Gelman said.
One thing that won’t need changing when Mr. Philbin and Ms. Ripa take their places before the new cameras (Ikegami HDK-727 in the studio and HDK-727P portables): the makeup. Mr. Philbin is notorious for crossing the street from his apartment to the studio with just 10-minutes to spare before the live show starts and Ms. Ripa has always gone for a light look.
(Updated seventh paragraph to clarify Mr. Reid’s role)