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 returned to morning television? What if something came along that he couldn't say no to -- that "offer-you-can't-refuse" kind of show? What if. What if! What if?

I asked him all this a little while ago during a phone chat about his forthcoming hosting duties on NBC's "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,"  and his response was a bit surprising: "I don't know. . ." said he, which is an eternity away from an answer like "never in a million years, Gay and stop asking me the stupid question."

 Philbin is one of the great and beloved figures of TV history -- a talk show master unsurpassed in the art of the "host chat" who brightened millions of lives over a 30-plus-year career. But he is 80, and did want to step off the "Live!" conveyor belt because he was so sick of the day-to-day grind.

But it has been seven months now, and he did appear on CNN last month in a remarkable and particularly candid one-on-one with David Letterman. He's also going to LA later this summer to tape two additional episodes of "Hot in Cleveland" to air next season.

He was also the subject of a Radar Online report the other day that said NBC was making a play to hire him if Hoda Kotb were to move to "Today" at 7 a.m.  It was denied, and he confirms that no one at NBC has approached him, and that there were no conversations about the subject at all.

But what if someone were to make an offer to return to morning TV? "There are certain days, once in a while, when I get out at night and say to myself, wow this would be fun" to relay that night's story on the next day's show. "I'm glad I did it, but I don't know how I'd react if anybody asked me to come back and do it again."

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