Regis loves his day job

GOOD MORNING: As the days dwindle down to a precious few before firing and hiring squads next week decide what’s up front and what’s down and buried, I talked with my friend Regis Philbin to thank him for having so generously flown out to m.c. my Daily Variety 50th-anni party Friday. Of course, you can see him each morning — he’s back on his day job. As for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,” he admits he’d like to see it back. “Once a week would be fine.” But he’d like to see its new season launched as it was in the beginning – with 11-12 straight nights. “But whatever they (ABC) decide, it’s OK with me. I love my day job” — and he’s pacted to do it through September ’03. Otherwise, Reege laughs, “Maybe I’ll join Johnny Carson — who’s on his yacht going through the Panama Canal en route to the Caribbean” … Also at my toasting, I talked to Robert Loggia about his CBS pilot, “Queens Supreme,” set in a courthouse of Queens. One of the cases in the pilot involves a plaintiff seeking damages for the loss of his penis following a medical procedure. Loggia hoped that a smile from Leslie Moonves at the party indicated a healthy future — for the series, that is … As for what’s to happen with the Grammys and Latin Grammys in view of the current C. Michael Greene goings-on — and off — Pierre Cossette, who has produced the show since its TV start 33 years ago, is going to the NARAS convention in Hawaii. He says Walter Miller and he plan to continue “to do what we do” — at the Latin Grammys at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Sept. 18 and the Grammys Feb. 23 at N.Y.’s Madison Square Garden.

“BILLY WILDER: A CELEBRATION of his Life” at the Academy Wednesday night was, as expected, filled, with love, laughs and admiration. Larry Gelbart, among the too few who kept in touch with Wilder regularly, reminded, “Billy could glide so smoothly between belly-laugh-filled comedy and gut-wrenching drama. It was because he was as attuned to the world beyond the soundstage as he was to the one within. He understood that laughter and tears are, at most, just a broken heartbeat away from one another.” As for what Gelbart learned from Wilder’s scripts and from the man: “If what you’re writing isn’t likely to offend or annoy anyone at all, go back and start again. Once you’ve told your characters who they are, let them speak for themselves. If an audience has the intelligence to buy a ticket to your work, return that intelligence with the best of your own. And, one final thought, there is nothing in this world as overrated as having the last laugh. We could have used hundreds more from Billy Wilder.” Cameron Crowe, Jerry Moss and George Schlatter assembled more words and film clips with Samuel Goldwyn, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Donen, Billy Bob Thornton, Curtis Hanson and Tony Curtis. And Audrey Wilder’s voiceover singing “Some Things Will Never Change” to a montage of the titles of Billy’s films … Add nostalgia, Tuesday’s Doyle N.Y. auction of motion picture memorabilia from the estate of actor Douglas Whitney exceeded expectations. F’rinstance, lobby cards of pix starring “Sunset Blvd.’s” Gloria Swanson went for $5,875; a package of stills of Judy Garland, Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow went for $7,050.

TOM CRUISE BOUGHT OUT ($3,400) a showing of “Imax Space Station 3-D” at Universal CityWalk to show to 20 friends — including Penelope Cruz … Tom Sherak is OK and recuping at UCLA Medical Center following surgery Wednesday … Here’s the fourth generation of Zanucks to appear in this column: Jack Richard Zanuck, son of Dean and Marisa Zanuck, was born Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai. Among the happy grandparents, Richard Z. and Linda Harrison, as well as stepgrandmom Lili Fini Z. Dean and his dad produced DreamWorks’ upcoming “The Road to Perdition” … Hans Zimmer and wife Suzanne welcomed twins, a boy and a girl, Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai They also have 4-year-old son Jake. Oscar winner Zimmer, who did the score for DreamWorks’ upcoming animated feature “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” will perform the music live with Grammy winner Bryan Adams singing, as the pic unspools in the Palais at Cannes May 18 … Ruth Livier and Mauricio Mendoza, who co-star in Showtime’s “Resurrection Blvd.,” will wed June 2. Livier, whose parents were both farm workers picking strawberries and avocados, will host the People’s College of Law tribute to Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Saturday at the Wilshire Grand … Dick Van Patten, Frank Gorshin and Jimmy Van Patten bow in “The Sunshine Boys” Saturday at the Falcon Theater. They started their cross-country tour Sept. 11, 2001, in Dearborn, Mich., which has the country’s largest Arab population. The show was almost canceled — but went on next day, and the day they opened in Tampa a youngster flew his plane into an office building! Here’s hoping Saturday’s a peaceful day in Burbank … Charles Nelson Reilly. who continues his cross-country one-man starrer “Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly” at the Canon May 9, reminds me, “Mark Twain said, ‘The greatest weapon mankind has is laughter.’ ” Reilly generates it.