The beloved game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” is set to return on Sunday night, and it will be hosted by the late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who is also acting as executive producer. With two days to go before the premiere, Kimmel is speaking out to pay tribute to the late Regis Philbin, who hosted the show during its initial run from 1999 until 2002.
“I’m hosting this show, but this is his show,” Kimmel said of Philbin in a clip that was released on Thursday. “Ultimately, ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,’ it’s like he left me a beautiful car.”
The clip went on to show footage of Philbin on set as well as a conversation Kimmel had with the host before he died back in July at the age of 88.
“No one will ever be better at doing this than you,” Kimmel told Philbin. “That’s why people love this show. It’s a great game, but Regis is the reason.”
After Philbin’s death, Kimmel took to Twitter to pay tribute to him.
“Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun,” Kimmel wrote on Twitter. “He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much.”
Regis was a great broadcaster, a good friend and a tremendous amount of fun. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a TV legacy that will likely go unmatched. Regis, I hope our friend Rickles met you at the pearly gates with open arms and a slew of the insults you loved so much
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 25, 2020
Longtime “Millionaire” show producer Michael Davies has confirmed that Sunday’s premiere episode will include another tribute to Philbin.
“It was very important to Jimmy and I that we give Regis a proper tribute,” Davies said, adding that Kimmel wrote a “beautiful tribute to Regis” and that there will be a brief highlight of Philbin’s most memorable moments.
“That was very difficult to condense but I found some great moments that fans of the show will remember,” he said.
“We give him an emotional sendoff on the stage and the studio he owned,” Davies continued, according to Fox News. “We’re all here because of Regis Philbin and we all know that.”
The producer went on to talk about the strong connection that Kimmel and Philbin had with one another.
“Regis was a fan of Jimmy’s long before [Jimmy] was famous,” Davies said. “We booked Jimmy on the celebrity edition of ‘Millionaire’ when he wasn’t really a celebrity. Regis was tickled by him; I remember the night Jimmy first got on Letterman … Regis calling me and laughing out loud on the phone watching Jimmy.”
“He was proud and felt he was somewhat responsible for bringing Jimmy on television. There was a great affection between the two men; you could see it on every guest appearance Regis made on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,'” he added. “It was very important to me to find [a host] who Regis would bless and believe worthy of taking his seat,”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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