Kathie Lee is gone, but the new women in Regis Philbin’s life provide a ratings boost for his morning show
Was it déjà A Spunky woman with a knack for surviving scandal sitting on the Live! stool next to Regis Philbin? Not quite. On Sept. 12 the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, became the show’s latest guest cohost after Kathie Lee Gifford’s July 28 departure. Since then everyone from Dolly Parton to Joy (Mrs. Regis) Philbin has gotten into the act. “Rotating hosts adds a different dynamic,” says New York Daily News TV writer Richard Huff—and it helps to explain the show’s 26 percent surge in ratings (to about 4.3 million viewers) compared with the same period last year.
Fergie, nervous at first, loosened up considerably as the show progressed before receiving a standing ovation. “I did a lot of prep,” she says. Would she become Philbin’s permanent sparring partner? “Absolutely, if they offered it to me.”
But the pressure is on—especially with NBC’s Today show expanding to three hours on Oct. 2, hoping to draw Live!’s viewers. Starting that same day Regis will be teamed for a week with regular viewers; the cast of Survivor will also stand in. Another possible cohost: Gifford’s endorsed successor, QVC host Lisa Robertson. “If Kathie Lee had never mentioned me, I probably wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance,” she says, adding, “Since she did mention me, I may not have a snowball’s chance either.”
So what will it take to get the permanent job? Maybe a little advice from Fergie, who in choosing her wardrobe said, “I felt strongly that I should not wear pants, because Regis is wearing the pants.”
Attention, ZZ Top (right). Should you need a break from those grueling nights on the road, have we got a couple of stand-ins for you! George Clooney and Tom Hanks may not have your musical chops, but hey, everyone knows looks are what really matter. Besides, no one expects Clooney and Hanks to be razor sharp with electric guitars in hand.
A Change at the CIA
When Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy bestseller, starts filming in January, one familiar face will be missing: Harrison Ford, who passed on a third performance as Jack Ryan, the CIA officer and Naval Academy professor he played in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (Alec Baldwin played Ryan in The Hunt for Red October). “They produced a script,” says Ford, “and…I didn’t care for it, so they went on to somebody else.” The somebody else? Ben Affleck, 28. “Clancy was always complaining about how old I was,” says Ford, 58. “So I think at least he’ll be gratified. Ben Affleck‘s a really interesting actor and seems to be a very nice person, so I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”
The Name Game
Celebrities from Madonna to Tina Turner have appealed to the World Intellectual Property Organization for the right to their names in cyberspace. (Cybersquatters own them now.) A United Nations affiliate, WIPO is expected to rule on these cases—including ownership of MickJagger.com and BradPitt.com—later this month.
The Marketing of JFK Jr.’s Memory
John F. Kennedy Jr. remained very much in the news last week, more than a year after his death. In Fairfield, N.J., an anonymous owner attempted to sell Kennedy’s first plane, a 1977 Cessna. But the top bid of $120,000 fell short of the hoped-for $300,000 price tag, and the sale was extended a month. Meanwhile the online auction house Moments in Time peddled a card Jacqueline Onassis allegedly made—and signed “Mummy”—for her son’s 1989 law school graduation. Asking price: $54,000. And on Cape Cod, a statue of an adult JFK Jr. and his father (he died three days before his son’s 3rd birthday) was rejected after locals said the work was in poor taste and historically inaccurate.
with Robert Patrick
Robert Patrick, best-known as the evil guy who morphed into liquid metal in Terminator 2, will be joining FOX’s The X-Files this fall as Agent John Doggett. David Duchovny’s replacement, you say? Well, yes, in a way. Duchovny will appear in 11 episodes. Patrick, 41, is in every one of the season’s 20 new adventures. He is married to actress Barbara Patrick and has two children. Scoop caught up with him to learn how it feels to replace one of television’s most mysterious leading men.
So who is John Doggett?
He’s an ex-Marine and an ex-New York City police detective who got commendations and has been in the FBI for a while. He’s on the fast track there. [But when it comes to paranormal activity], he’s a total knee-jerk skeptic.
Do you believe in the paranormal?
I believe there is advanced technology that our government is lying to us about and keeping secret from us. But I don’t really believe that there is alien life coming down here. I do believe there is life in the universe, but I don’t buy that they’re visiting us right now.
So you’re saying we’re not ready for a visit from the aliens?
I’m not saying that!
Will there be any romance between Doggett and Scully?
I think sparks are already flying! I don’t know if they will write anything like that, but Gillian [Anderson, who plays Agent Dana Scully] and I have great chemistry so far. I enjoy working with her.
It seems that you’re going to like this job.
It’s cool to have a steady TV gig with good writing and a cool character I really like.
Before landing this role, were 1 you an X-Files fan?
Definitely. It’s a very interesting show. I like all the conspiracy and the covert-ness. Sometimes I can’t figure it out: What’s this? Who’s that? What’s going on? I’m lost! All I know is that Mulder has been abducted, and I’m confused. I’m like the rest of the fans. But my answers are coming soon.
ON THE BLOCK
If these walls could talk, they’d have enough dirt for a Danielle Steel novel! The 3,400-sq.-ft. multilevel contemporary home on Mandalay Bay in Oxnard, Calif, (an hour northwest of Los Angeles), that once doubled as the swank condo setting for the steamy encounters and wicked plots of the nefarious Dr. Peter Bums on the prime-time soap Melrose Place (1992-99) is up for sale. Built in 1989, the three-bedroom, 2½-bath home (asking price: $885,000) features a private boat dock, brushed aluminum cabinetry and custom-made furniture. And the sellers are willing to part with the furniture if the price is right. Apparently, Melrose location scouts were so taken with the owners’ decor that when shooting began, says listing agent Tom Conway, “everything in the house, right down to the bathrobes, was theirs.”