Regis Philbin, one of the great broadcasters in TV history and a morning fixture for a quarter of a century, told the world this morning that the time has come: He's leaving "Live" sometime this summer.
Huge news indeed, and Reeg dropped the bombshell at the top of the show. We'll get up a clip as soon as it's available (and it is, see below). Reasons: Not exactly given, but he is 79, has undergone various health issues in recent years, and may simply recognize that the time is right.
More in a minute. Meanwhile, here's the clip, and below that, the news release:
"It has been my great honor to work with Regis since the Walt Disney Co. nationally syndicated ‘LIVE’ in 1988,” said Janice Marinelli, president, Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
“Regis is one of the great, iconic television personalities of our time and we couldn’t have asked for a better friend and partner over the years. We will all certainly miss having Regis be a part of our day.” The “LIVE” franchise will continue, and in the coming months Disney-ABC Television Group will name a new co-host to join the talented and captivating Kelly Ripa – who celebrates 10 incredible years co-hosting with the show, next month.
While 2011 will be a year of great change for “LIVE,” it will also be a time of incredible excitement as the show sends Philbin off in style. In the coming months, “LIVE” will welcome top guests and feature special segments, all part of the countdown to the spectacular farewell celebration for the incomparable Regis Philbin. “WABC is proud to be the home of ‘LIVE! with Regis and Kelly,’ and it will be difficult to say goodbye to Regis after 28 years as a member of our family,” commented Dave Davis, president and general manager, WABC.
“We will miss him as a colleague and friend. We’re fortunate, however, to have two real pros who can lead ‘LIVE’ into the future – Kelly Ripa, who has spent the last 10 years developing her own amazing voice in daytime talk, and Michael Gelman, who has been with the show since its inception and is one of the best executive producers in daytime television.”
“LIVE” began when Regis Philbin created “The Morning Show” for WABC in his native New York City; it soon became the No. 1 one show in the market. Kathie Lee Gifford joined him in June 1985 and in September 1988, the program debuted in national syndication and the title was changed to “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.” The show matched its local success with extraordinary national ratings and established itself as a dominant fixture in national television, a tradition that continued when Ripa joined the show in 2001. For nearly 25 years, “LIVE” has been an essential stop for the top names in the entertainment industry. From award-winning actors to the hottest musical acts, the show boasts A-list celebrity guests, top-notch musical performances and one-of-a-kind segments that are unrivaled on daytime television.
Currently in its 23rd season in national syndication, “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly” is executive produced by Michael Gelman, and is distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Produced by WABC-TV in New York, “LIVE” airs in more than 200 markets across North America.