It’s a GOOD MORNING back in Hollywood after a brief vacation. My first phone call was to Regis, to give him a report on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — Play It!” It’s the new attraction in Disneyland’s California Adventure, at which I sneaked a peek. Philbin will officially host its opening Sept. 13, 10:30 ayem. I can report he will feel completely at home in the stage built (at a cost of $6 million!) in the Hollywood Back Lot area of the park. It looks like the real McCoy, only better: 680 seats compared to N.Y.’s 200. (Everything else looks and sounds the same.) Philbin has christened a similar stage at DisneyWorld. Everyone hopes the new one has similar success in Disneyland where audiences will fill in, spill out of the stage every half-hour. Of course, Regis can’t linger in L.A.: He has double duties to deliver in N.Y. The Disneyland host spot will be taken over by the park’s “cast members” now being trained to be Philbin fill-ins. Guest celeb hosts are also plotted. Of course there are several changes between the ABC TV’er and the California Adventure version. First, no money is won; instead, points are awarded as the questions are progressively answered. They range from 100 points to 1 million; assorted prizes are given at each level, with the prize for the top answer being a trip to N.Y. to watch the real thing. There’s also a time limit on answering, thus moving the contestants in-and-out of the theater every half hour, for as many as 16 shows a day. Every member of the audience can be a contestant thanks to the high-tech screens at each seat. And yes, the lead contestant (“hot seat”) has the TV-show participant’s options: i.e., “50-50,” “Ask the audience” and “Phone — a complete stranger”!
MEANWHILE, FOR THURSDAY’S“Live With Regis and Kelly” (Ripa), Philbin flies to South Bend to do a show that “I’ve always wanted to do” — from the campus of his alma mater, Notre Dame via split screen with Kelly in N.Y. “You will love the opening shot, from the top of the stadium across the campus.” Philbin recalled that Notre Dame was my last duty as a Naval Officer, teaching midshipmen navigation as the war was ending. (He shied from my noting he’d made a $2.75 million contribution to his alma mater’s department of film, TV and theater). While at Notre Dame he’ll tape an interview with ABC Sports’ Bob Davie to air between the North Carolina and Texas game, Saturday ayem. Regis can’t be on hand for that game nor the one with Notre Dame and Nebraska, Saturday evening: He’ll be taping two “Millionaire” shows with a panel of comics, Saturday and Sunday. The comic contestants are Denis Leary, Kathy Griffin, Seth Green, Jack Black, Robin Quivers, Bill Maher, Caroline Rhea, Orlando Jones, Jimmy Kimmel and Kevin Nealon. Their shows air Sept. 17 and successive Mondays … He’ll also be seen “live” in Southern Calif. New Year’s Day as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade. With his schedule seemingly sans end, I asked what about his future with the network? “Well, I still have two years to go on my current contract,” he reminded. “And the two shows run concurrently” on the pact.
NO, I DIDN’T SPEND all my vacation in Disneyland; Selma and I took in other great “live” entertainments in Southern California, with grandson Ryan Rosenblum. With the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad as the perfect centerpoint for family vacations, we also took in Legoland, SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. And the Aviara’s pretty director of public relations Shae Page will wed SeaWorld dive team member Jeff Geary Sept. 8 in Hawaii … TV’s “survivor” shows are reflected in a “Bionicle Tribal Quest” in Legoland, whose duplications of everything from Hollywood Blvd. and Grauman’s Chinese to the New York Skyline and Grand Central Station — all in Legos — are awesome. At Sea World, an added attraction was the arrival of a baby killer whale. TV cameras are no strangers here: Animal Planet’s “That’s My Baby” will have segs on their dolphins, penguins, and killer whales. The park’s show of these animals remains a wonder of the amusement park world. It has added a combination land-and-sea extravaganza, “Cirque de la Mer” — a “fantasea” … Before leaving town, we took in BevHills’ own contribution to live entertainment, in the heart of the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza: “Corky Hale & Friends: A Salute to Hollywood Songwriters.” The incomparable Hale hosted-costarred with some of the top musical creators of film, TV, stage, concert. The songwriter-participants included Lew Spence, David Raksin, Johnny Mandel, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Paul Williams, Lamont Dozier, Jeff Barry, plus sensaysh singers Lee Lessack, Steve Tyrell and Stacy Sullivan. Ray Evans was still hospitalized, but Jay Livingston made a surprise entrance at the finale and everyone serenaded him with “Que Sera, Sera,” one of his and Evans’ Oscar-winning tunes. The (free) show got a standing ovation and producers on hand are talking to Corky to repeat next summer, as a summer concert special … .On another musical note, Nelson Riddle’s daughter Rosemary Riddle Acerra happily reports a court victory for the six Riddle children regaining royalties on works their father had written and recorded before he married his second wife, Naomi — the main body of his work having been written when married to his first wife (the children’s mother) Doreen. A further issue of double damages will be sought Dec. 12 against A. Edward Ezor, executor of the estate of Riddle’s second wife, Naomi.