GOOD MORNING: Would he quit his day job? No — and especially not if the big computer on his new primetime job continues to act up, as it did Thursday night during the first run-through of ABC’s “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” Regis Philbin, coming off the stage at Sony Studios on 54th St. after the first trial of the new show, said he believes he could do both his “live” ayem talker — which winds at 10 ayem — and tape “Millionaire” at night. I’ve seen a tape of the England-originated, computer-assisted quiz show, which is a ratings winner overseas. It has all the elements to make it equally successfully in the U.S.: high-tech components, answer-response suspense — and GREED! London’s elaborate set is duplicated in N.Y. and Reege admitted, “It is complicated!” … With two nights of trial runs, the show starts officially taping Sunday night (7 p.m.) to begin airing the following night, 8:30-9 p.m. for 14 nights. The show is touted as “Millionaire” — but no one in England yet won the high payoff. At Thursday night’s first test run in N.Y., the high winner was $34,000. Regis admitted of the first go-round with the computer, “We’re learning a lot.” The quiz show doesn’t allow his lengthy loose patter, which he loves and which he reels off effortlessly weekdays on “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee.” Philbin, who will be 66 on Aug. 25, has two more years on his pact with the Buena Vista TV syndie’d ABC daytimer. The “Millionaire” show is also a Disney project … Philbin started talkshows in 1961 and today has the same enthusiasm as a beginner. “This is so exciting — it’s exhilarating. August is (usually) such a dead month on television, we’re hoping to get enough of an audience in order to do it later as well” — either as specials or regular nightly shows.
MICHAEL LANDON’S WIDOW, CINDY, has filed a $5 million suit vs. the Globe for its July 6 article on Michael and her. “I’m not going to take it any more,” she says. Alschuler, Grossman, Stein & Kahan are her attorneys in the action … And CBS is defendant in a multimillion-$ suit filed by attorney David Berke on behalf of Sherry A. Weinman and Amy Harris, who claim their 1995 submission of their show “Small Talk” wound up as “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” on the web. They also claim to have suggested Bill Cosby as host. You recall, of course, that “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” originated as a segment of Art Linkletter’s “House Party” in 1945 — and aired until 1970, during which time Art interviewed over 27,000 children. Should be an interesting case … Joey Barnum will be inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, Oct. 16 at the Bonaventure Hotel. One of those who recommended Barnum for the honor is Kirk Kerkorian — who, in his last amateur bout in the early ’40s, lost to Barnum at the historic Jeffries barn in Burbank. Kirk lost a tight decision to Barnum, left boxing and — well, the rest is history! Barnum went on to have a successful pro boxing career. And for the last 35 years has been a very well-known bailbondsman in So. Cal. His autobio is called “They Call Me Mr. Bail” … Add sports note: “Young & Restless” star Eric Braeden heads to Canada this weekend to participate in the International Women’s Tennis Championships — paired with a top WTA Tour player (Stephie Graph, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis or Mary Pierce) in a pro-celeb match … At the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas this weekend, “Hoops in Vegas” tourney teams NBA greats and celebs in shoot-outs to benefit the ERAS Center. Tom Arnold and UNLV Rebel coach Bill Bayno will be roasted. The Improv’s Budd Friedman produces the roast, which will include participants Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ed McMahon, Stan Winston, and Bob Saget.
CULTURE NOTES: The L.A. Opera season, which bows Sept. 8 with “Samson and Delilah” starring Placido Domingo and Denyse Graves, got a sensaysh kickoff at the home of Wendy (Stark) and John Morrissey. Wendy also hosts the opening night opera gala. The L.A. Opera’s Peter Hemmings was pleased to note to me that Hollywood is becoming more and more involved with the L.A. Opera company, which will boast Domingo as managing director next year. He is genuinely active in the company. Among those on hand: Ray Stark and Carla Kirkeby, Faye Dunaway (who, you recall, starred in the Maria Callas-inspired “Master Class”); committee members Sherry Lansing, Jackie Collins and Frank Calcagnini; solid supporters Mary Haley and Selin Zilkha, Angie Dickinson, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Prince Rupert Lowenstein (longtime manager of the Rolling Stones), the Robert Stacks, Arnold Kopelsons, Fred Haymans, Barbara and Marvin Davis (look for his position in the Hollywood Park-sited L.A. pro football team), Deborah Raffin, Jacqueline Bisset, the Tony Curtises, Jim Coburns, Harold Beckers and Fred de Cordovas. On the film front, Morrissey and partner Larry Turman are readying “Kingdom Come” with an all-black cast for Fox Searchlight … And the State of Nevada has granted the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival a 40-year lease on its site — a beach at Sand Harbor on the North Shore, where two of Shakespeare’s plays have been produced annually for 21 years (this year, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “As You Like It”). The performers are from the Foothill Theater Co. of Nevada City and they are excellent.