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Regis Philbin, co-host of ABC’s morning talker Live! With Regis and Kelly, announced Tuesday morning that he would be retiring this summer.
So who will be sitting next to Kelly Ripa once Philbin exits?
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with three experts — our chief TV critic Tim Goodman, MediaWeek‘s Marc Berman and Jerry Springer — and asked who they believed could do the job.
Comedian Greg Proops is a frontrunner in Goodman’s eyes. He “has been doing all kinds of strange and great things that are always hilarious,” he said. “He’s likable, has the fastest comic timing alive and would certainly perk up a morning.”
Goodman continued on the comedy route with his next choice, Amy Sedaris, “who would be absolutely perfect.” “Let’s not forget, she’s handy — and a proven hostess,” Goodman noted.
Lastly, he offered Wayne Brady as a candidate for the Live! job. “He’s born to do that. He’d drive down the demo and expand the audience,” Goodman said. “He’s a natural.”
Berman, on the other hand, believes CBS’ How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris is his top choice.
“He’s my No. 1 pick,” Berman said. “He’s well-known and well-liked. He’d be very good next to [Kelly]; he’s entertaining. People want to learn more about him, and he’d bring a whole different perspective to that show.”
He pointed out that Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, would also be a good fit for the co-hosting gig. “He’s done it many times. They have a built-in chemistry. They look good together and work well together,” Berman noted.
Conan O’Brien’s sidekick Andy Richter could possibly land on shortlists, Berman believes. “He’s a likable person, an everyday person. People feel comfortable with him — Andy has those qualities,” he said. “He’d have more exposure if he did this show [instead of TBS’ Conan] and would have a bigger role.”
Survivor veteran Jeff Probst and Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel, who have both guest-hosted on the ABC show before, could also be potential frontrunners. Berman said of Probst: “People know him and he’s kind — and want to know more about him. He’s done it before, and I think he could fill that chair pretty comfortably.”
On Mandel, Berman noted Mandel’s likability factor, but made mention of the risk in hiring naturally funny people. “People like him, and he’s funny. The obstacle is, you don’t want to do a stand-up act every day,” he said. “You want the co-host to be someone you’re comfortable, who you want to watch every day.”
Jerry Springer, who replaced Philbin on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, was sad when he heard the news that Philbin would be stepping down. “He’s a giant in the industry. He’s one of the last of the original broadcasters,” Springer said.
Springer seconded Berman’s suggestions of Consuelos and Mandel, but offered a reason why he couldn’t put himself up for the position. “I’m with NBC and they wouldn’t let me go. I’m under contract with them,” he said.
“For years there was a show in Britain, Richard and Judy, and they married. People loved it. When you watched them in the morning, you could tell whether they had an argument at home the night before. It was the dominant morning show,” Springer said of a possible Consuelos-Ripa daily team-up. “It could work. It would be a different show.”
“He’s so personable,” Springer said of Mandel. “When you’re on every day, it’s more important to be comfortable than hot. It’s got to be someone as comfortable as the furniture. Howie fits that bill.”
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