Tuesday, February 6, 2001
New York Regis Philbin finally has a new partner.
"All My Children" actress Kelly Ripa was introduced Monday as Philbin's co-host on the syndicated talk show. Producers had been holding open auditions since Kathie Lee Gifford left last July.
Ripa, 30, has filled in as co-host four times since September, and announced during one appearance that she's pregnant with her second child. She's married to fellow "All My Children" actor Mark Consuelos.
"We kind of knew it the first time she was on," Philbin said. "She has an ebullient personality and has a lot of the qualities we were looking for."
Starting next Monday, "Live with Regis" becomes "Live with Regis and Kelly."
A New Jersey native, Ripa has played Hayley Santos since 1990 on the ABC daytime drama.
Like Philbin, who does double duty as host of ABC's prime-time game show, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," Ripa said she'll keep working on the soap opera, although her role will become less prominent.
"I think it's like an ABC policy ï¿½ you must work two jobs," Ripa said on the morning show.
"Between the two of us," Philbin replied, "we've got 40 percent of the schedule covered. If we go down, ABC is over."
Philbin and his producer, Michael Gelman, weren't in much of a hurry to name a successor to Gifford since the show's ratings went up during the tryout period. The line of subs included Dolly Parton, Valerie Bertinelli, members of the first "Survivor" cast and Philbin's wife, Joy.
"I think it's the show that runs itself," said Ripa, who looks vaguely like a younger version of Gifford. "You don't have to think tremendously. He does the bulk of the work," she added, glancing at Philbin.
Regular viewers will probably get to know Ripa's 3-year-old son, Michael, and new baby as well as they did Gifford's children.
"I don't think you can be a parent and not talk about your children on the show," she said.
Ripa said Gifford sent her a nice note congratulating her after word leaked out last week of the selection.
That doesn't necessarily earn Gifford a ticket back, though. She hasn't been invited on as a guest since she left, and Gelman ducked a question Monday about when or if she'll return.
Philbin and Ripa didn't waste any time starting up mocking banter. When Philbin raised his pants leg to reveal an old injury, Ripa said that his leg badly needed moisturizer.
"Let this be the first of many times I'm going to say this," he said in a mock wail directed to his producer. "Gelman!!"