NEW YORK (AP) — Regis Philbin’s new colleagues were tapping away on their smartphones Monday, tweeting about his new sports talk show, and he blurted out: “All I’ve got is a bottle of water.”
“Crowd Goes Wild” premieres next month with the launch of cable channel Fox Sports 1, and befitting a program debuting in 2013, it will weave back-and-forths with viewers into the broadcast. Producers even hired a social media correspondent.
And hosting all this is Philbin, who turns 82 six days after the premiere.
Executive producer Michael Davies, who worked with Philbin on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” insists the octogenarian fits in just fine with a company known for attracting younger audiences.
“Every single one of us has a parent or a grandparent who struggles with social media,” Davies said. “We’re going to frankly have a lot of fun with Regis’ struggles with social media.”
Sports may be the theme, but in some ways “Crowd Goes Wild” won’t feel much different from Philbin’s old morning talk shows.
He’ll open up each edition of the Monday-through-Friday program with a commentary, and then later interview a guest – who could be an athlete or an actor. There will be debates on the hot sports topic of the moment, but Davies vows the conversations will be more nuanced than one person arguing the pro and another the con of the issue.
And while the NFL, of course, will be the most popular point of discussion, everyone involved promises talk about a broad range of sports. That will inevitably include tennis, a favorite of Philbin’s.
Even if the denizens on social media howl that no one cares about tennis, Davies is comfortable that the tone of the show will allow for a wider range of topics.
“We’re not a sports news show; we’re a sports entertainment show,” he said. “The standard for us: We’re not trying to set the agenda of what America are talking about on a daily basis. We’re frankly trying to be funny a lot of the time.”
The recent revelation that Jets coach Rex Ryan went running with the bulls would have been perfect fodder for the program, Davies said.
Philbin, also a big Notre Dame fan, would have loved to chat about sports in his opening commentaries when he hosted “Live!” with Kathie Lee Gifford and then Kelly Ripa before leaving in late 2011.
He just never really got a chance.
“I could talk about what I’d seen last night at Yankee Stadium or something like that, and Kathie Lee’s eyes would start to get scared,” Philbin said at a news conference in Manhattan. “Talk about something else, a football game that was so hot this Sunday, and Kelly would just not care at all. And (executive producer Michael) Gelman would say, `What are you talking about?’”
Joining Philbin when “Crowd Goes Wild” premieres Aug. 19 will be two-time Super Bowl champion defensive lineman Trevor Pryce; journeyman pro tennis player turned standup comedian Michael Kosta; Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay; and Georgie Thompson, an anchor for Britain’s Sky Sports.
A typical interview might go something like this, according to Philbin: George Clooney comes on to promote a new movie, but he also chats about rooting for the Cincinnati Reds.
Davies predicts that Philbin will succeed because his skill as a storyteller transcends genres and generations.
“You speak to a young comedian or a young athlete about Regis, their eyes light up,” Davies said. “That is something that is very unique that I don’t think a younger host could actually bring to it.”