Morning talk show host Regis Philbin decided to leave his long-running show because of a salary dispute – not because he was getting too old as he had told viewers.
According to reports, his decision left co-host Kelly Ripa shocked and the production team furious.
The decision to leave came after Philbin’s agent Jim Griffin was told Regis would have to take a pay cut in his new contract because of the show’s dipping ratings and the large amount of vacation time he takes.
It’s unclear when he made the decision to call it quits, but reportedly he let Kelly Ripa, his co-host of almost a decade, know about 15 minutes before they went on the air. He told the studio audience shortly after.
“She felt it showed a total lack of respect for her,” a source said.
Kelly was much more gracious in a statement shortly after the announcement.
“While I realize that nothing is forever, still I had always hoped there would be an exception,” Ripa said. “I can’t overstate what Regis has brought to the table.”
Ripa and the “Live” crew weren’t the only ones left in the dust by Philbin.
He also broke ties with Griffin, his longtime agent of 25 years, who was reportedly shocked by the sudden change of plans.
“When I first met Regis, he hadn’t worked in a year and a half and here we are,” Griffin told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve had a great run.”
Regis, 79, signed new management and is looking to do smaller gigs, similar to when he hosted “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”.
Whether or not he’ll follow through on that is unclear. In 2007 he said in an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he recognized most people his age – at that time 76 – had long since retired.
“I do love being off,” he said, when asked if he would ever retire. “It’s at least something to consider.”