Katie Couric owes Regis Philbin 10 bucks.
On the prime-time special she did with Regis Thursday night on ABC, she bet him $10 that he would cry on his final show, and he didn’t. In fact, the best word to describe Regis’ demeanor throughout his final edition of “Live with Regis and Kelly” Friday morning was “serene.”
The same could not be said for Kelly Ripa, however. Seemingly on the verge of tears at several points in the show, she finally broke down when making some remarks she prepared in advance, reciting them between sobs.
She thanked Regis — with whom she spent the last 10 years as co-host on “Live” — for making her feel at home from her very first day on the show. And she credited his guidance with helping her become the TV personality that she is today. He was the old pro and she was a young TV actress with little or no talk show experience. And she seemed sincere when she expressed her deep appreciation for the example he set for her.
Regis said a bunch of thank-yous of his own, of course. He concluded the show with a minute or two of remarks in which he thanked the show’s staff, the parent company (Disney), viewers and fans, and the many friends, colleagues and former co-hosts who were in the studio audience for the show.
To name just a few of the faces we spotted: Regis’ wife, Joy, and daughters JJ and Joanna; former morning TV stars Meredith Vieira, Katie Couric, Joan Lunden and Bryant Gumbel; Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford; John McEnroe; Donald Trump; Judge Judy; and Tony Danza, who yelled out, “We love you, Regis!” when the show began.
“I feel OK, I feel pretty good,” Regis said calmly after he and Kelly made their last entrance together and she asked him how he feels.
Like the other “Farewell” shows this week, this one had several clip montages, the best of which was a mashup of dozens of celebrities doing impressions of Regis over the years — from Dana Carvey (who practically invented the Regis impression) to Darrell Hammond, Ben Affleck, Ted Koppel and Barney the Dinosaur.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg came on to present Regis with a key to the city, and Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company has made up a Regis plaque that will be posted at the doorway of the ABC studio facility on Columbus Avenue in New York.
And videotaped farewells from six younger celebrities were shown: Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, Shia LeBeouf, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, and Kevin Connolly, who, curiously told a brief story of how Regis helped him adjust his tie when he came on the show for his first appearance, except that the videotape that accompanied Connolly’s remarks revealed that he wasn’t wearing a tie.
Regis was unemotional throughout — perhaps because he’s done so much TV in his life that he just couldn’t get worked up about his final show, or because, mentally, he was just really ready to get out and get on with it. “God bless you all, and I hope to see you all again soon,” he said blandly.
Of course, throughout the show, promo spots for Monday’s show — rechristened “Live with Kelly” — were shown, ballyhooing next week’s guest host, Jerry Seinfeld. The promos were a reminder that, with or without Regis, the show goes on.