What’s Changed On ‘Live!’ Without Regis (And What Hasn’t)

TV Star Kelly Ripa (Photo: Steven Henry/Getty Images)

TV Star Kelly Ripa (Photo: Steven Henry/Getty Images)

Today was the first day of a Regis-free “Live!”, which is now dubbed “Live! With Kelly”; Kelly Ripa came out by herself, stood in front of the host chat desk, and gave a little speech about this being the beginning of a new journey, then introduced her first guest co-host, Jerry Seinfeld.

What followed from there was pretty much what we expect from “Live!”: free-form host chats, celebrity guests, trivia contests, and “big announcements,” but here were four things we noticed right away that might give us an indicator as what is to come:

Kelly sitting in Regis’ host chat seat. We’re not used to seeing Kelly on the left side of our screens; even when Regis Philbin was off, Ripa would sit in her traditional seat, with the sub sitting where Regis sat. Kelly moving to Regis’ seat was a huge symbolic move; it’s Kelly’s show now, and the guy she called “Big Daddy” isn’t coming back.

A different host chat tone. The host chat wasn’t as free-flowing as usual — it was also really long, with Seinfeld being allowed to riff on what “all-inclusive” means in the trivia prize package, as well as other topics — but the there is a tonal shift that you immediately sense. Regis could fill time like no one in the business, talking about sports, where he ate last night, a play or movie he saw, or just telling a story he’s told a million times. Kelly right away talked about one of her kids being sick, and talked to Seinfeld about his new dog. Since she’s going to be leading the conversation, the family stuff will likely come to the forefront as time goes on.

A bigger nod towards technology. The trivia contestant was on Skype, which the show experimented with when Regis would go on vacation, but will likely use more now that the technology-phobic Philbin is gone for good. The show’s new Twitter handle and web addresses were heavily promoted during the host chat; Kelly made a point of telling Seinfeld that she responds to people who talk to her on Twitter.

An appearance from the Consuelos kids. Not that we’ve never seen them before, but the fact that they put together — with the help of Ripa’s hubby Mark Consuelos — a relatively lengthy video congratulating their mother and wishing her luck isn’t an accident; now that Kelly is in charge, we’ll likely see more of her kids as the show goes forward, even the ones that say they’re too shy to come on. It’s part of that “do it all mom” image that Ripa tries to project, and including her kids will be part of how she’ll try to relate to a lot of the show’s audience.

Logo, credits, coffee cups: All of them say “Live! With Kelly” (in rather awkward fashion, like Regis’ name was sliced out with an X-acto knife), which is something that will persist until Kelly finds a co-host, which could take quite some time.

Watch “SNL’s” take on the auditions for Regis’ replacement:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Saturday-Night-Live/10009/2169127391/Regis-Philbin-Auditions/embed 580 476]

Here are a few things that haven’t changed:

The set. This is a show that takes years to make changes, and while producer Michael Gelman indicated there will be some “redecorating” to come, they decided to keep the set the same for now.

Kelly sitting ┬áin her usual seat for interviews. Our guess is that she’s comfortable there (and it shows her better side). Though that may change as her force of personality becomes more dominant.

Gelman. The show won’t change a ton while he’s still producing. He knows what works and won’t mess with that too much.

Big announcements that aren’t that big. Ripa teased a big announcement that turned out to be a wedding giveaway. Big deal; at this point, the only big announcement that we care about is who will be the co-host. Until then, they should shelve the teases and just tell us what the next contest is.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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