Regis Philbin is reportedly thinking about applying for the host’s job at “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” now that Meredith Vieira has announced she’s calling it quits.
Philbin, 81, was, of course, the original host of the first U.S. incarnation of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” on ABC back in 1999. But when the daytime version was launched in 2002, Philbin reportedly turned down an offer to host it.
Vieira, 58, announced yesterday that she won’t re-up for “Millionaire” next May when her current contract expires, preferring to increase her workload at NBC News (where she’s still under contract). In walking away from “Millionaire,” Vieira is choosing to give up an annual salary estimated at $12 million, according to this story in the New York Post.
And now, the position is piquing Regis’ interest. He hadn’t learned of Vieira’s decision to leave the show until a reporter phoned him at his Connecticut home to ask him if he would be interested.
“That’s a total surprise,” Philbin is quoted as saying in the Post story linked above. “I thought she loved doing the show.” When he was asked if he’d like the job, Philbin said, “Maybe. I’d have to think about it.”
Philbin was probably understating his interest. It’s no secret that the hard-working TV personality would love a new full-time gig on TV. Though he frequently turns up as a guest on talk shows such as “Late Show with David Letterman” and had a guest-starring role with Betty White in “Hot in Cleveland,” Philbin hasn’t worked steadily since he left his morning talk show, “Live,” in 2011. “I do feel that I’m not doing everything I should,” he told the Post. “I’m not accomplishing anything.”