Regis Philbin appears on his farewell episode of "Live! With...

Regis Philbin appears on his farewell episode of "Live! With Regis and Kelly." (Nov. 18, 2011) Credit: AP

What if Regis Philbin, the prodigal son of morning TV, were to return? Would our days be a bit brighter, our step a little lighter?

Yes . . . and yes . . . That welcome prospect was raised on Monday in a report that breathlessly proclaimed Philbin was "in talks" to replace Hoda Kotb should she -- as has been reported elsewhere -- replace Ann Curry on "Today." Curry is expected to go, with an announcement possibly coming as early as this week, although Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of "Today's" third hour, is considered the leading candidate to replace her. Kotb co-hosts the fourth hour.

An industry source close to Philbin on Monday denied there was any truth to Radar's report, but let's play along with this anyway, just for the fun of it: What if it was true? Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford reunited for the first time in 12 years! The gods of morning TV would "kvell" at the prospect.

Would Reege?

Some history: Back in the day, Philbin got so weary of knocking down questions about his supposed off-camera battles with Gifford that he finally worked the "feud" into his stage act. "Once I didn't talk to her for two weeks," he joked. "I didn't want to interrupt her."

He has been everywhere the past few weeks, and will host "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular," which gives rumors like Radar's currency. And last week's memorable double-dose on "Today," first with Matt Lauer, later with Gifford, only served to remind fans what we've been missing since he left "Live! with Regis and Kelly."

It's also easy to imagine Reege missing the great and glorious limelight. "Hi, everybody, it's me, Regis, remember me?" he said -- plaintively -- when hosting "Piers Morgan Tonight" one night last month.

But back? With Gifford? Full-time? (Again?) Not likely. Here's what he told me last fall, just before his graceful exit from the stage: "I know it's hard to explain, but sometimes you just think enough is enough. There are some mornings when I'm still putting on the show for guys like you so you can enjoy yourself, but it's not all that much fun to me . . . It's time. It really is."

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