Let the speculation begin!
Why is Regis Philbin stepping down as host of a show that he created and has effectively existed in his own name through a couple of variations over the years, dating back to '70s LA and even before that in San Diego?
One doesn't step down from a gig like this, even if age impedes. He is talking to no one in the press, I am assured, so for the moment anyway, speculation must suffice...
1.) Age: He is 79, turns 80 in August. But I think age in this instance is irrelevant. He will not retire from TV. So if he's not retiring from TV - there will be other game shows, like "Crossword" or what have you - then that means he doesn't consider age an issue.
2.) Life style: He lives across the street from the Amsterdam Ave. studios! How bad a lifestyle is that? He works one hour a day, makes about $10 million plus a year. Good grief. I don't believe this, although Kathie Lee Gifford, his longtime co-host - they are still pals, sort of - thinks he'd like to get to some warmer climes, or so she mentioned on "Access Hollywood" a little while ago.
3.) Contract: Believe me, Disney and ABC would keep him forever. That is irrelevant - and so is price.
4.) He hates Kelly: I'm not sure what to make of this theory, but you will see it bandied about. "Hate" is not in Reeg's vocabulary, but he was bugged by Kathie Lee's tempestuous reign all those years ago, and I wonder whether Kelly has finally over-stayed her welcome as well. He would never say - except maybe in private conversation - but I wonder.
5.) Health: It's an issue for everyone, but Reeg has had two heart operations, a blood clot removal operation and...his hip was replaced in the spring. Could something else be going on? Hard to say, but he has been very upfront about his health issues over the years; it often is part of the conversation, even.
5.) WABC/Disney want to groom a newcomer. This is highly highly likely. With "Oprah" leaving, daytime TV is wide open. It's there for the taking, and believe me - everyone is gonna try and take 4 p.m. this fall. That'll put a very bad hurt on WABC - the NYC leader for many years thanks to "O" - and it can't face the prospect of two major franchises without hosts this fall. So it needs to get someone up next to Kelly very very soon. Any ideas? I have some. Next post...