Kathie Lee Gifford is standing by her late friend and collaborator Regis Philbin after Kelly Ripa said her experience with the beloved TV presenter was “not a cakewalk”.
In a Monday interview with Fox 5 NY, Gifford said she won’t be reading Ripa’s new book after the Live With Kelly and Ryan host recently opened up about the “good days and bad days” she’s had with Philbin. Gifford and Philbin co-hosted Live With Regis and Kathie Lee for about 12 years before Ripa replaced Gifford for Live With Regis and Kelly.
“I was very sorry to see the headlines” of Ripa’s interview with People magazine promoting her book and describing her complicated relationship with Philbin, Gifford told Fox 5 NY.
“We see headlines all the time, and you never know what’s true and what’s not. … I saw that and I thought, ‘Oh, I hope that’s not true.’ … Because what’s that supposed to mean? I do not get it.”
Gifford hailed Philbin – who died in July 2020 at the age of 88 – as “the best partner a person could ever have professionally”. She recalled Philbin’s wife Joy telling her that the host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire last laughed when they were all together, two weeks before he died.
“We were dear friends. And after I left the show… we became better friends, dear friends,” Gifford continued.
“We always picked up exactly where we left off. We were frick and frack. We were the odd couple. We were absolutely perfect together for TV. We never had a fight – not an unkind word in 15 years. So that was my reality.”
Ripa’s reality was a little different, according to last month’s People cover story, which highlighted the talk show personality and her book, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories. When she accepted the “live” gig, Ripa said, she was bluntly told that Philbin was her “boss” and didn’t want her to “bring an entourage” to the set.
When Ripa arrived with hair and makeup artists — which she said was “not an unusual thing for people on a TV show” — Philbin reportedly quipped to an executive producer, “Uh-oh…it’s got an entourage.”
“I felt terrible. He was probably trying to be funny but at the same time it felt like a bunch,” Ripa said of the incident.
“I understand he probably didn’t want to have a co-host, but the network wanted me to be the co-host and I didn’t think I should pass up that opportunity. I don’t think it was fair to him. But it wasn’t fair to me either.”
While Gifford admitted that Philbin had a tendency to annoy people he liked, she claimed that she “never saw him be rude to anyone.”
“I’m not going to say anything ugly about anyone,” Gifford continued. “I never have, and I’m not going to start now. I’m just saying my reality is something completely different.”
For what it’s worth, Ripa also had a lot of nice things to say about Philbin, praising him as “the best storyteller in the world” and making it clear that she loved him.
“Off the camera and outside of this building, it was a different thing,” she told People.
“I’ve enjoyed so much the few times we’ve been together. … He came to a dinner I was hosting – one of the favorite nights of my life. I’ve never laughed like that.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-10-10/kathie-lee-gifford-kelly-ripa-book-regis-philbin Kathie Lee Gifford addresses Kelly Ripa’s Philbin remarks