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Philbin: 'Millionaire' return is a thrill

By KAREN BUTLER   |   Aug. 5, 2009 at 3:19 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Producer Michael Davies says he is focusing on celebrating the 10th anniversary of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" not attempting to revive the U.S. game show as the prime-time juggernaut it once was.

ABC recently announced plans to air a two-week series of new prime-time episodes, starting Sunday and running through Aug. 23, with original host Regis Philbin again presiding.

The evening game show began in 1999, with Philbin as host, and ran for several years before becoming a 5-episode-a-week, daytime syndicated series, starring Meredith Vieira. Throughout it all, Philbin, 77, has continued to serve as host of his own morning program, "Live with Regis and Kelly."

"Ten years ago, we had no expectations about the ratings and I had no idea the show was going to be a hit and I think all we did was buckle down and focus on making a really, really, really good show," Davies said when asked in a recent teleconference what his ratings expectations are for this month's night-time editions of "Millionaire."

"And I think this time, also, we're just having such a great time in the studio and making such a great show," Davies added. "We're just celebrating the 10th anniversary of this program. That's all we're focused on doing. The ratings are up to the American viewing public ... Regis and I have just been tickled pink the last few days by the atmosphere in the studio and the atmosphere with our contestants and our celebrity guests and our experts. It's been really magical. And we'll see what happens."

So, would Philbin consider returning to a prime-time version of "Millionaire" on a regular basis if the American viewing public dictates it?

"If the network really comes to us and says: 'Please, Michael and Regis, please help us out. Please save us again …' Then, listen, we're more than willing to go every night or once a week or once a month," Philbin said. "Any time they need us, we're willing to do this show."

He went on to say the reason he is participating in the prime-time "Millionaire" is because the game show "is very special to me."

"It was a highlight of my career and in my life. I loved every minute of the five years that we did it," Philbin said. "And it's a thrill to be back."

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