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First Regis Philbin announces he's leaving 'Live,' now he dumps agent

January 19, 2011 |  4:20 pm

REGIS

Just one day giving notice that he's leaving his day job as host of the syndicated morning talk show "Live with Regis & Kelly," Regis Philbin has also dumped his agent of 30 years.

"I don't understand what this is all about," said Paradigm agent Jim Griffin.

The 79-year-old Philbin, who only recently had decided to walk away from the show he has been affiliated with for almost three decades, is headed to WME, the agency born out of the merger between Endeavor and William Morris. Griffin had toiled at William Morris for years, but left with Philbin in tow after the merger. News that Philbin was going to WME was first reported by Deadline Hollywood. Although Griffin handled Philbin's main TV gigs, WME had continued to handle the personality's night club work.

In an interview, Griffin said he was taken aback by Philbin's abrupt depature.

"When I first met Regis, he hadn't worked in a year and a half and here we are," Griffin said, adding, "we've had a great run."

Asked what Philbin might have been unhappy about, Griffin said he did not know. "It's obviously very sad," he sighed.

Philbin's exit from the morning show and his decision to switch agents has caught many in the industry off guard.

Having chosen to quit a job that paid him a handsome salary (north of $15 million a year, according to some industry sources), it will be interesting to see what work WME drums up for Philbin that will be as lucrative.

In the meantime, Disney, which distributes "Live with Regis & Kelly," has several months to find Kelly Ripa a new co-host. The show is still successful, although its ratings are on the decline and the median age for the show is about 60. That makes the program less appealing to many advertisers who covet young viewers.

No word if Ripa's name will go first once Philbin is gone.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. Credit: Associated Press

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