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TV Note: Philbin won't host daytime 'Millionaire'

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Someone else besides Regis Philbin will be seeking final answers on the daytime version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire."

Philbin has declined two offers to be host of the five-day-a-week syndicated show, his agent, Jim Griffin, told the New York Post on Friday.

Griffin's announcement came as something of a surprise, since the show's producers, Buena Vista Television, had been negotiating with him.

Also, ratings for ABC's prime-time version of the show have faded to the point it's not certain it will be back next season. The daytime "Millionaire," which starts next fall, is likely to air for many years to come.

"Regis is my first choice, and has always been my first choice," said the game show's executive producer, Michael Davies. "Until I actually tape the first episode in seven months and I don't see Regis in the host seat, I don't think that I'll believe that he won't be hosting."

Philbin was the hottest star on television two years ago when "Millionaire" was riding high. But its ratings are down, and Philbin wasn't happy when an ABC executive in November expressed uncertainty about its return.

There's precedent for different hosts with the same game: The sharp-tongued Anne Robinson is host of NBC's "Weakest Link," but John Gray leads the syndicated version.

Griffin, who did not return calls seeking comment Friday, told the Post that "Regis already has a full plate and it's not like he needed another job."

Buena Vista, through a spokeswoman, said it was disappointed in the decision.

(Associated Press)

Gone and forgotten

NBC yanked the abysmal Hank Azaria sitcom "Imagine That" after just two episodes. Sitcom reruns will air in its place Tuesdays at 8 p.m. until after the Winter Olympics.

UPN's "Second Unit 2" hasn't been canceled, but the show is on a "production hiatus." Don't hold your breath waiting for it to commence filming again.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

High fives on 'Monday'

If you've watched CBS's "First Monday" (9 p.m. Friday, CBS), you may have been taken aback by the scene of James Garner and the other actors playing Supreme Court justices standing in a circle, stretching out an arm and laying their hands on top of one another in a "Ready, break!" move reminiscent of jocks in a locker room.

"Let's go make history," Garner says.

It looked positively goofy, and executive producer Don Bellisario acknowledged the real justices just shake hands.

"But quite honestly, you're creating a TV series," Bellisario said. "You're trying to entertain."

"Do you want nine justices shaking hands on the screen while you're sitting in your living room?" Garner said. "Get on with it."

(R.O.)

CBS shows on UPN?

Though CBS president Leslie Moonves said UPN won't become CBS2, it is possible some CBS shows will air on the smaller network.

At a recent UPN party, Moonves said a new "repurposing" deal reached with affiliates will allow the telecast of five hours of programs from CBS's prime-time lineup per week elsewhere: Two hours on UPN, the rest on Viacom-owned cable networks.

It's similar to the arrangements other corporations have put in place to maximize company synergy. For instance, "24" airs on Fox and later repeats on Fox-owned basic cable network FX.

"It's the way of the new world," Moonves said. "Synergy is not just poppycock at this company."

(R.O.)

BET Awards on the move

On June 25, the "Annual BET Awards" will move from Las Vegas to the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, home to the Academy Awards. Cedric "The Entertainer" and Steve Harvey will serve as hosts.

Harvey, who used to host "Showtime at the Apollo," makes no bones about the quality of the program since his departure.

"Have you seen it? It sucks," Harvey said. "You can put a capital 'S' on that, too. That makes you feel good when the show utterly crumbles when you leave it. That always does something for your well-being."

(R.O.)

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