Here’s who should be Regis’ ”Live” cohost
Kathie Lee, we hardly knew ye! If only you could have shared with us one or two details about your marriage to Frank Gifford. Or perhaps opened up about, say, those children you always kept so private. (I believe their names are Cassidy and Wild Bill? Or was it Cody?)
Anyway, there’s no time for that. Now we’re just left wondering who’s going to replace you on ”Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee.” The tryouts have already begun, with a rotation of guest hosts now appearing opposite the Reege. The show’s producers must decide who best complements Regis’ monochromatic wardrobe and early morning crankiness.
Opinions on the subject are many. In a recent EW.com poll, nearly 20,000 concerned ”Live” fans weighed in with their choices. Regis’ wife, Joy, topped the list, with other safe picks like Marilu Henner and Joan Lunden thrown in for good measure. (Though more than 1,000 votes were cast for Tammy Faye Bakker — yikes!) Other names being bandied about include Vanna White, Florence Henderson, and ”The View”’s Lisa Ling.
But those names are all pretty boring, if you ask me. Why not really shake things up? Why not capitalize on Regis’ newfound ”Millionaire” clout and hip factor and inject some edge into the show? Just think about the possibilities. What about ”Live! With Regis & Bill”? Either Gates or Clinton would do, since they both may soon need a place to go in the morning. A younger cohost might be nice, too. ”Live! With Regis & Haley Joel Osment” could be cute, and just think about the promo opportunities — ”I see cereal, people!”
Or perhaps ”Live!” should reach out to the needy. What about ”Live! With Regis & Donny & Marie,” now that their show’s been canceled? Likewise, ”Live! With Regis & Dr. Laura” might do wonders for the radio shrink’s faltering P.R. efforts. ”Live!”’s producers might even want to go international and do ”Live! With Regis & Elián.” After all, the Cuban boy’s been off the front page for a while and ”Live!” still needs to earn back some credibility after all those child sweatshop accusations were thrown at Kathie Lee last year — and now Regis, too, this past week.
If nothing else, ”Live!” could just go for ratings. ”Live! With Regis & Pamela Lee” has an oddly familiar ring to it, and let’s face it, there simply aren’t enough Mylar bustiers in morning TV. Likewise, ”Live! With Regis & Cindy Margolis” could make it the most downloadable show on the air. Controversy might help, too: ”Live! With Regis & John Rocker” would stir up some major league press. And what about Rush Limbaugh? He’s been sniffing around for a job with ABC’s ”Monday Night Football.” Why not just make him get up earlier?
Some combinations sound intriguing but probably won’t happen. Imagine ”Live! With Regis & Rudy, The Crabby Navy Seal Guy from ‘Survivor”’ (”Gelman! Get down and give me 20!”). I also like the sound of ”Live! With Regis & Garfunkle” and ”Live! With Regis & the Pips.” And you know what would be really cool? ”Live! With Regis & Pee Wee Herman.” Um, or not.
If Regis were smart, he’d seize this opportunity to complete his pop culture make-over. With ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” he already seems eons younger than he did just two years ago, but ”Live! With Regis & Bob Hope” could make Reege look like the new Dick Clark. Meanwhile, all those cynics pooh-poohing those silly first round questions on ”Millionaire” would never question Regis’ intelligence again after a few episodes of ”Live! With Regis & Philip Glass” (complete with a theme song driven by hypnotic recycled arpeggios). Or better yet, ”Live! With Regis & Stephen Hawking” (Think about it: ”Up next on ‘Live!’: The mysteries of the universe revealed — AND party reporter Claudia Cohen catches up with Zac Hanson!”)
The truth is, none of these combinations will ever quite match the discordant harmony achieved by Regis and Kathie Lee. Now that he’s a superstar, Reege is bound to overshadow nearly anyone who takes the stool opposite him (save, ”Live! With Regis & Pope John Paul II”). Which is why I think the best bet may be to listen to what America really seems to want: Cancel the show entirely and just put ”Millionaire” on TV five mornings a week.