Regis Makes Small Talk Fun

Regis Philbin GETTY

Santa Claus comes but once a year

But Regis Philbin is a gift that keeps on giving:

Millions of Americans — most of them middle age, middle class and middle brow — have been celebrating Regis most days for as long as they can remember:

Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood visited his syndicated morning show, "Live with Regis and Kelly," two weeks ago.

Regis comes across as the aggrieved every man, Kelly as needling and flirtatious.

"I know that this show runs whether I'm here or not," Kelly says. "Regis could actually host the show with a doorknob and it would be spontaneous and fun and interesting."

But you would have to get the right doorknob, you know.

"I… yeah… you have to get the right doorknob," Kelly continues.

Before Kelly there was Kathy Lee. And before her a handful of other attractive partners, including his wife, Joy, who now often fills in for Kelly. All Regis' talk shows have been winners.

"Well you know this — this was my mountain, Charles," Regis says. "To make this show a success nationally. I had done it so long, locally. And people would say to me, well who cares what you did last night, or who you saw. It's just people don't care in Kansas City. So it'll never go national."

"Well, finally I kind of forced it to go national. So it worked out just fine," Regis continues. "Cause if you can involve people in your… if you tell them enough about your life, so that it duplicates what they're doing, in their lives, all of a sudden yes, they do get interested."

The specialty of Regis and Kelly is small talk.

Their banter is spontaneous and unrehearsed. In fact it's usually the first time they've talked each day.

"Because, I think what makes the show magical is the fact that there is no scripted dialog interaction with us," Kelly says.

"Right off the top of our head," she says. "'What did you do last night?' If we sat and discussed things, we would have nothing to say on the air, you know. So that's the magic of Regis is because he can turn anything into a conversation."

Their chemistry glitters and their ratings prove it: 6.6, with a 21 share.

"With a 21 share! Unheard of. Unheard of in our business," Regis says. "In the morning, Charles! Huh? So there you go."

"Look at Oprah. Six point three, with a 16 share," he adds.

He must be doing something right.

And their audience sure agrees. They wait one year for tickets.

"Very quick," one fan says.

"He is funny, he has charm, has character," says another fan. "In my next job I want his job. Makes it look easy."

It's easy for Regis maybe, but not for others.

"I don't really realize how hard the work is until he takes a day off," Kelly says. "And then I feel that this job is work. Because when it's him leading the show — it's just fun for me."

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