The best is yet to come? Well, if you’re Regis Philbin, that’s an open question.
Regis sang the classic song, “The Best is Yet to Come,” with pal Tony Bennett Tuesday on “Live with Regis and Kelly” (soon to be just “Live with Kelly”) as the show counts down Regis’ final days after nearly three decades (his last show is Friday).
But here’s the thing: Regis is an 80-year-old man leaving a job he’s held for something like 28 years (histories vary because the show has gone through so many incarnations and co-hosts, particularly in the beginning). In this economy, jobs for 80 year-olds don’t exactly grow on trees – even if you’re Regis.
It is true, though, that Regis Philbin is getting more ink and TV time this week than he ever has (for example, before “Live” on Tuesday, he appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America”). All the attention – and a new autobiography released on Tuesday called “Regis Philbin: How I Got This Way” – might set him up nicely for some new TV job.
But if he has a future in the TV business, Regis hasn’t been talking about it this week because this week is all about the past. On Tuesday’s show, Donald Trump came on to reminisce about how long he’s known Regis – dating back, more or less, to Trump’s first-ever appearance on “Live” (back then it was “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”) back in 1989.
And various clip retrospectives were shown celebrating the Regis Years. One was a fascinating mash-up of musical acts that have appeared on the show over the years – a varied list ranging from New Kids on the Block in 1988, to Celine Dion (1991), Spice Girls (1997), Ludicris, Rihanna, ‘N Sync and on and on.
Another clip job was one that looked at all the “occupations” Regis tried over the years – bits where he tried to make cappuccino at Starbucks or work as a nanny and at least 24 other jobs (the piece took an A-to-Z approach with “exterminator” for “x”).
Steve Carell was seen weeping in a taped “farewell” to Regis inserted between segments. And Trump had an image of his iconic Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue (the building seen on “The Apprentice”) photo-shopped with a sign that said “Regis Tower.”
Before duetting with Regis on “The Best is Yet to Come,” Tony Bennett sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which Regis said Tony hadn’t sung on TV in 60 years.
Regis’ “Farewell Celebration” – as the show has been subtitled for his final week – continues Wednesday with guest David Letterman.