The world is filled with love sweet love today for Regis Philbin, who will be retiring after long ago establishing himself as the pit bull of morning talk show hosts.
Not pit bull as in “vicious” or “mean.” As is in foaming at the mouth.
The man is like 147 years old.
He once interviewed Roosevelt.
Oh, everyone loves Reege. Even though he’s a terribly inept interviewer, I like the guy, too. Even after the time that he allegedly wanted to kick my ass.
At least that’s what Frank Gifford insinuated.
Frank Gifford. Hall of Fame football player. Sportscaster. Philandering husband of Kathie Lee Gifford, Reege’s former co-host.
Many lifetimes ago I was the reporter at a newspaper in a small-but-insanely-wealthy town. One day I proposed writing an article about the many celebrities who owned property there.
I combed through the property records in the town assessor’s office. Talked to some locals in the know. Stood on the main street and watched them pop into Starbucks and nosh at the local eateries.
Oooh, there’s Mel Gibson. And Diana Ross. And Ron Howard. And Frank and Kathie Lee. And, yep, Regis.
The article ran and, as with most things I wrote then and write now, I never heard a thing about it from anyone.
Until the next night.
As soon as I walked in, one of the guys in the sports department stopped me.
“Oh, man. Did I take a bullet for you today,” he said. “I got chewed out by Frank Gifford because of that article you wrote.”
He had called Frank, then in his post-football glory/pre-cheatin’ on Kathie Lee days, for comment on some local sports matter. Instead, he got an earful about how he couldn’t believe the newspaper would publish an article like mine.
People like him moved there to get away from the spotlight! (No, they want to be near New York City and other celebrities and live in posh mansions. Otherwise, North Dakota would be teeming with Kardashians and Baldwins. Besides, your wife talks about the town you live in every day. On NATIONAL TV!)
How dare we print what street he lived on! (Then don’t buy the land in your own name. It’s in the land records. Besides, I didn’t give the house number, the street is two miles long and it has dozens of other “estates” on it.)
Now the kicker.
“And he said it wasn’t just him who was upset,” the sports guy told me. “Regis was very upset, too.”
Reege, on this special day when the whole world is bowing at your feet and the media is falling over itself with weepy praise for you, can we just put this behind us? Can we? Because, man, …
What do you say?
Now get some rest.
And get me a shot at the seat next to Kelly Ripa. Rrrrrrowl.