Kathie Lee calls it quits after 15 years

Philbin's wife rumored to be replacement

After waking up America for 15 years, the ayem chatshow duo of “Regis and Kathie Lee” is splitting up — and it’s not Regis Philbin who’s ankling.

But the show will go on, with Philbin reupping in a multiyear contract, while the industry buzzes about a possible replacement for the exiting Kathie Lee Gifford.

Gifford announced on-air Tuesday that a decade and a half of hosting duties for Buena Vista’s syndicated staple “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” was more than enough. She said she would not be renewing her contract in order to spend more time with her family, and will leave at the end of July when her contract ends.

“It’s the day you have been praying for for 15 years,” Gifford joked with Philbin. He, on the other hand, just completed a contract renewal that all but ensures the series will continue for at least a few more years.

Philbin had been rumored to ankle the series since striking gold with a blockbuster deal for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” but Buena Vista execs convinced him to continue his daytime reign.

Rumors are running rampant regarding a replacement for Gifford; Philbin’s wife Joy, a frequent guest host, is one hot name. But some insiders doubt Joy will end up in the chair come summer. One source said that despite her contract’s expiration in July, Gifford will stay on the show until a suitable replacement is found by the studio.

Debuting nationally in fall 1988 after a local Gotham run of three years, “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” has been one of the most steady daytime performers, earning a 3.5 for its most recent national rating. Compared with last year, “Live” is down a modest 10%, also at a 3.5, tying “Montel” for fourth place within the genre.

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