You can call it the end of an era or just a final bow that's way overdue (or both, really), but now that Regis Philbin has announced his official exit date from "Live! With Regis and Kelly" as Friday Nov. 18, the race is on for TV types to fill that soon-to-be-empty chair. After all, vacancies don't come up too often on this show. The 80-year-old Philbin has held onto his spot for 28 years, while Ripa grabbed her gig 11 years ago.
So far, much of the chatter has centered around "Survivor" host Jeff Probst, Ripa's husband Mark Consuelos and ubiquitous TV annoyance Ryan Seacrest. While I'm sure all three of these guys would do a fine job, I'd like to give each of them a solid veto.
Why? Consuelos is a great guest, but I have to believe the cutesy bickering he and Ripa do on the show would become a strain on both of them (and on viewers) after a while. All of their adorable family stories are going to be the same stories, and I suspect that the bickering will start to feel like what happens when you go to a friend's house and end up having to stare at the watermelon on your paper plate as he or she busts into a tense "discussion" with the spouse. I have to admit, I don't consider that a great way to kick off my morning.
As for Probst, he's funny, affable and good with guests, but doesn't he have a demanding day job? One that takes him to remote locations across the globe? I'm not sure how many seasons "Survivor" has left, but if Probst is hoping to swing back and forth between the two gigs, that means a lot of guest hosts and many tedious hours of Kelly Ripa nagging him for dish on the other show.
Finally, there's Seacrest. While he has an ease with Kelly Ripa and is a solid interviewer, aren't we just sick to death of him already? Besides, if Probst is busy, Seacrest is even more so as he reigns over his massive entertainment empire. Let him focus on encouraging poor Dick Clark out of his New Year's Eve gig and leave some jobs for the rest of Hollywood.
So, who would we like to see next to Kelly Ripa? I have a wish list (and, as with most wish lists, some of these are undoubtedly pipe dreams). But hey, if some of these stars took the gig, I suspect people might just start setting their DVRs.
1) Alec Baldwin. Yes, he's busy. But "30 Rock" films nearby and, well, the guy's just plain funny. And while we may not necessarily agree with his politics, we appreciate that he actually has an awareness of politics, which we can't say for a lot of stars.
2) Ricky Gervais
. Considering how gleefully he tore up the Golden Globes, we can't imagine what he'd do with a regular gig on daytime. He'd never do it, but can you imagine the fun he'd have?
3) Kristen Wiig
. Why can't we have two women? Sure, we've got Kathie Lee and Hooda on "Today" and it's all women on "The View," but so what? Wiig is fast on her feet, she also works nearby (though we suspect early days and late weekends might kill her) and, as long as she can resist the urge to break out into characters or scurry off to work on her "Bridesmaids" follow-up, she'd be great.
5) Anderson Cooper. He's been a great foil to Kelly Ripa in the past as a guest host, and he lends a certain gravitas (but not too much) to the show. We heard that the ratings for "Anderson Cooper 360" aren't what they used to be and he has plans for his own daytime series in the works this fall, so why not join forces with a known entity?
6) Katie Couric. Remember when she used to be fun? Remember when she used to pal around with Matt Lauer and get excited about cooking segments? She could be that fun again. After all, she's not doing the news anymore, and jumping into an existing hit would be far less risky than the "syndicated talk show" she's supposedly planning.
7) Betty White. Sure, we've had our fill of the 89-year-old, but can you imagine how peeved Regis would be if his replacement was older than he is?
8) Brian Williams. Yes, he's a serious news anchor. But he's shown a deadly wit whenever he shows up on "30 Rock," "Saturday Night Live" or Letterman, and if he ever gets tired of reporting on hurricanes, mass murders and Congressional dilly-dallying (and who wouldn't?), he'd be a great addition to daytime.
9) A "Celebrity Rehab" alumnus. Given that the show has had two fatalities in the last year (Mike Starr and Jeff Conaway), it would nice to see someone like Amber Smith or Mackenzie Phillips get an actual boost from going through rehab hell in public.
10) Neil Patrick Harris. Yet another guy who's far too busy to take on another job, but it seems that "How I Met Your Mother" didn't give Barney particularly meaty storylines last season. A show of his own (or almost own) might be an easy solution -- plus it would give him more time to spend with his twins.