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It’s been less than 24 hours since morning show icon Regis Philbin joined Oprah Winfrey and Larry King as the latest TV pioneer to hang up his microphone. Ater 28 years as the face of Live!, Philbin is retiring. The show’s producers said Live! will continue without Regis, and a new co-host will be named in the coming months — and we’re already hearing whispers about the next professional gabber who may join sud star-turned-hostess Kelly Ripa.

First up: Ryan Seacrest.

Celebrity informants tell Extra TV that ABC is already preparing a “blockbuster” package in hopes of wooing the TV/radio personality — perhaps best known as the host of FOX’s American Idol — into taking over for Reege. After all, The Alphabet Network already has Seacrest tapped to a multi-year contract co-host Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Other names under consideration include How I Met Your Mother actor Neil Patrick Harris and Survivor host Jeff Probst.

NPH for the win!

PopEater’s Naughty but Nice< /em> Column, on the other hand, believes Live! could get an infusion of girl power if producers opt to swap Reege for a woman.

“The incredible success that the ‘Today’ show is having with Kathie Lee and Hoda is a model everyone is trying to copy. Kelly has a ton of girlfriends and is totally open to the idea of sitting next to a woman every morning. Plus, this way you are not trying to replace a legend but rather take the show in a different direction,” says a pal of Ripa’s.

An ABC executive adds: “For some time they have been unofficially testing out potential replacements on the show. Neil Patrick Harris, Anderson Cooper and even Kelly’s husband, Mark, have filled in yet on-one was as good as Regis.”

Philbin departs Live! at the end of this summer.

“This will be my last year on this show. It’s been a long time, it’s been 28 years since I’ve been here … . There is a time that everything must come to an end,” Philbin said on the air Tuesday. “We’ll have a lot of fun between now and then.”



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