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Larry King Live

Who Wants to Host a Game Show?

Aired January 19, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he just made another millionaire: Regis Philbin talks about the wild success of his new show and a lot more. He's all our for the hour, and he's take your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It is the phenomena of the television year. I had dinner the other night with Michael Eisner, the chairman of the board, chief operating officer of Disney. They are thrilled with the success of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" which now airs three times a week on ABC -- Thursdays at 9:00, and Sundays at 9:00 and Tuesdays at 8:00. Its host is Regis Philbin. And before this show went on the air, he appeared on this program, and said he was here to save the network.

REGIS PHILBIN, HOST, ABC'S "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?": That's right, I did.

KING: Do you feel you have saved the network?

PHILBIN: Absolutely. I've given them ratings they've never dreamed of.

KING: How did you know that this show would do this well? And you did know it, and mostly in this business, which is so unpredictable, how were so really, in retrospect, on the mark?

PHILBIN: Larry, I knew it was a good show, but I was kidding when I save I was going to save the ABC television network.

KING: But you were confident it would make it?

PHILBIN: I was confident that people would enjoy the show, but I mean, who thought -- who knew that it was going to achieve this kind of status.

KING: And the explanation in retrospect now is?

PHILBIN: Well, it -- a million dollars -- look, the show is simple. It's executed beautifully. It's a million dollars, and that's still a considerable sum of money in the country. The production values on the show are the best -- the lighting, the music -- all of it combined together makes a very exciting, compelling show.

KING: And the host -- I know I embarrassed you when I called you an American treasure, but you are. There's nobody that doesn't like you, Regis.

PHILBIN: But, Larry, a national treasure -- you know the first one who was called that was Johnny Carson by "Time" magazine a few years ago, and frankly, Johnny deserved it, but now, every column you read somebody is a national treasure. I am not a national treasure.

KING: But how are you handling that, frankly? I mean, you've always been successful. You don't have to say your last name, and that's when you've made it in the world, if you don't have to say the last name. How is all this multiple success, how have you handled it, really?

PHILBIN: Well, I think I'm handling it OK. You know, it's quite a schedule. I wake up and go see Kathy Lee, and now I'm -- at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day, I am seeing Larry King, and then I am going to bed.

KING: Tell me how your day workings when you're doing both shows? Let's say a Tuesday or a -- do you tape the day before, or are you live?

PHILBIN: Yes, well, we're taping every night of the week if we want to get a week off every now and then. So we're live in the morning, as you well know, get up around 7:30, get over there about 8:20. Gellman (ph) comes in 8:45. We visit, we talk, have a few laughs. I go down. I get made up at 8:50. One minute to 9:00, I pick Kathy Lee up. We walk down the hall. We go out. We start the start the show. Then the at 10:00, it's over, and then there's mail and calls and all that kind of stuff.

And then in the afternoon, I like to squeeze in a workout, maybe even a nap once in a while, and then around 4:00, head down the street. The show is now being produced in the old GMA Studios on 67th Street. So that's within walking distance. Go down there. At 4:00, again go through the makeup, get briefed, look over the questions, get set, get ready, meet the contestants; 5:00 we tape. It usually takes two-and-a-half hours, so I'm out by 7:30, and then it's dinner and then to bed.

KING: Do you watch the show?

PHILBIN: You know, I do watch it, but now that -- you know, in the beginning, I didn't have a chance to watch it, when we were taping late at night. We would be taping while the show was being aired. Now I can. And I enjoy the heck out of it. Last night, I watched it in a New York restaurant here on the east side over at Nino's, and there it was on the screen up over the bar, and as people were coming in the restaurant, they were stopping to watch, and they could see this guy closing in on a million dollars, and I'll you, Larry, it was like the old days, when people would stand in front of the store windows and watch TV, you know, with their mouths open. It was a lot of fun, and the bar area just filled up at Nino's, and here this guy was going for the million, and he won it, and a cheer went up, and it was terrific.

KING: The host always wants them to win, right? PHILBIN: I do. I really do. I think it makes for a better show.

KING: Are you flattered by fact that every other network and it seems every other night has a show?

PHILBIN: Yes, yes. As a matter of fact, it is very flattering. Well, we all knew that was going to happen. That's what this business is built on: Let somebody get a hit, and then you try to make it better. And so far, I still think we've got the best show.

KING: And what -- now that you have become -- have you ever hosted a quiz show?

PHILBIN: Years ago, I was -- "Who's Your Neighbor?" or I forget, something about a neighbor for ABC; that was 25 years ago.

KING: What makes a good quiz show?

PHILBIN: Well, I mean, certainly they've improved over the years, but I think the simplicity of it. I have seen little bits and pieces of these other shows, and frankly, I have some kind of trouble following the plot lines, you know. I think the simpler you can make it -- and what's simpler than one on one, starting at $100, 15 questions later, you're up to a million bucks? The audience understands it. The lifelines are explained. You see the money that the guy has amassed as he's going through the stack of questions. That's about as easy as it gets.

KING: The only complaint that I had and other friends of mine had is that the -- final answer. And I would imagine if I were hosting it, it would drive me nuts to have to say the same phrase so many times.

PHILBIN: You know, Liz Smith, a columnist here in the New York news, had great idea. She wrote me a letter the other day, and she said, Why don't you say it in other languages, you know, just that phrase, just to break it up? But you know, the ABC lawyers insist on it. Now they are -- I am still saying it through every one of the 15 questions, but the lawyers will take it out -- the editors will take it out of the first five questions, just to relieve the listener from hearing it over and over again.

KING: Do you like saying it, frankly?

PHILBIN: No, Larry, I don't like saying it.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: How about -- another criticism is that the questions are too easy, that it's dumbing down America, some of the -- you know, what two colors are in an Oreo cookie?

PHILBIN: All right, in a minute, Larry, I'm going to give you the test, and you are one of the most influential, one of the most highly respected -- you're a news man for God's sakes. You're an interviewer! You're an icon! You're a national treasure, Larry. So we're going to ask you the 15 questions.

But look, the first five questions are for the kids in the audience. We want them to participate. We want them to get interested in education, in learning and to feel the pride when they come up with the official answer. Kids are loving it, and that accounts for our gigantic ratings.

KING: You mean, the young kids at home, they like those early ones?

PHILBIN: Absolutely. And I want to tell you something, sometimes they trick up the adults who are playing the game, because sometimes maybe there's a gap in your education or your life's experience.

KING: I know.

PHILBIN: Whatever, you know?

KING: Well, there was one the other night. You had a nursery rhyme. The answer was goose. I didn't know the answer. I would have had to ask for help.

PHILBIN: Did you see that whole show?

KING: No, I didn't see the whole show, but that part I saw. I'm out at $200. I am blown, gone.

PHILBIN: That's right.

KING: All right, do you say to yourself, I know this, I could win a million dollars.

PHILBIN: Oh, once in a while, I get up there pretty high, but I don't think I've ever really gone all the way. As I'm asking the question, I say to myself, do I really know this answer? And sometimes, I don't. No, I don't think I could have gone to a million.

KING: And who is dressing you, Regis? You have changed your nighttime look with the dark on dark, silver shirts, dark black ties.

PHILBIN: Yes, I...

KING: What's going on?

PHILBIN: I just came from a taping session. This was the outfit I wore tonight. You know that the host over in England dresses this way -- dark conservative clothes, and everything we do on this show comes out of England. I mean, when you buy this show -- and so many countries have -- you've got to buy the entire package -- the lights, the music.

KING: Really?

PHILBIN: The way the host dresses, everything.

KING: That's fascinating.

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: And that's part of the concept then?

PHILBIN: Exactly.

KING: The way the host looks is part of the...

PHILBIN: Yes, he's supposed to look like he's a wealthy guy.

KING: We'll be back with more of Regis Philbin. We'll take the test. This could be embarrassing. And we'll return.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?")

PHILBIN: In the film "Notting Hill," where does Hugh Grant's character work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'll poll the audience on this one.

PHILBIN: Wow, 88 percent feel it's a bookstore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's nice when the audience supports what you thought it was, so I go with, A, bookstore.

PHILBIN: OK, is that your final answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is my final answer.

PHILBIN: Final answer. Everybody's right! It was a bookstore.

(APPLAUSE)

PHILBIN: Panama borders which of the following countries to connect Central and South America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I've got myself an American map in my head, and Colombia is the country that Panama boarders.

PHILBIN: You say it's Colombia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I believe.

PHILBIN: That will be your final answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will be my final answer.

PHILBIN: You're right, it's Columbia! You won $16,000.

(APPLAUSE)

PHILBIN: What did the 45-foot-tall "Hollywood" sign say when it was originally built in 1923. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Hollywoodland" is my final answer.

PHILBIN: Final answer "Hollywoodland" -- for $32, 000, you've got it!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, last Wednesday night's show of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" was the number-one most watched program on any network this season. It unseated the season premier of "E.R." The program since its return has been averaging 28 million viewers. When it left the air after -- before the hiatus, it was averaging 27.77 million viewers.

There were some who predicted, Regis, that it would go down, that it should stay on like, just every three months or so. They were wrong, obviously. Why? Because some people thought, wouldn't this be great as kind of an event, a Super Bowl?

PHILBIN: Sure, and it's a terrific idea to have it as an event. But when you're fighting for your life as a network, and the other guys are ahead of you, you go with your best shot, and so that's exactly what ABC did.

KING: They're also bringing in, I understand, another show from England, with brighter questions, a kind of brainiac show. Have you heard about that?

PHILBIN: "Mastermind," yes, I have heard about that. It may be too bright, too brainy for popular consumption, but I think they're looking at at it very seriously now.

KING: Is this true that writers on the show don't tell people they are writers? These are -- this has been printed. Wide-spread concern about honesty on quiz shows, so writers don't tell -- "Millionaire" writers sit in a shredder-filled room with a combination lock that is changed -- this has been written.

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: Is that always true, the secrecy around it?

PHILBIN: You know, come to think of it, I, frankly, have never met -- I've met the head writer -- I've never met any other writers. They keep me pretty isolated from everybody. Even if I go to the men's room, somebody has got to walk me down there and stand outside.

KING: Everyone's worried about legit, then, right?

PHILBIN: Yes, oh, absolutely. That is a paramount thing. There is an attorney who comes into the room -- you see, if somebody misses, and I have to go and get -- look at a fresh stack of questions... KING: Right.

PHILBIN: ... I do that just before we play the game to determine who the next contestant will be. And so in that stack is the head writer and producer and the ABC legal person. And they watch me like a hawk. And I go through these questions for pronunciation, for whatever, and no mention of the answer, of course. And then we go out and we do it. No, it's all legit.

KING: True, Regis, that you really wanted this, that they had other people they were thinking of and you fought for this, true?

PHILBIN: Well, I called them, and I reminded them that, yes, I had been around ABC for 32 years, and even though most of those years I had been ignored, I would like to be considered for this show. I thought it was worth going after. I had heard that I was not on their short list, but...

KING: Don't matter now.

PHILBIN: Doesn't matter now is right.

KING: What about the morning show, how long now do you stay with this?

PHILBIN: Well, Larry, my contract is up August of 2001, so I have got, gee, more than a year and a half.

KING: Do you imagine that -- let's say "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" continues a five-year run.

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: Would you drop the morning?

PHILBIN: I don't know...

KING: Under that hypothetic?

PHILBIN: Well, it would depend on how I was feeling, you know. I mean, if I -- my stamina couldn't take it, maybe I would have to do that. But right now I am feeling pretty good, unless...

KING: Is our dear friend...

PHILBIN: ... unless you...

KING: Is our dear friend...

PHILBIN: Excuse me.

KING: Unless I want to take over the show, is that it?

PHILBIN: Who's that? Unless you want to take over the show? Yes, of course.

KING: All right, let's talk. Does our dear friend Kathy Lee, is she happy with your success?

PHILBIN: Oh, yes, I think she is. Yes, we kid around a lot on the show, as you know, but I believe that she really is happy for me.

KING: Because these tabloids are saying that it increased the feuds.

PHILBIN: No, no, no.

KING: You must get a kick out of those, right?

PHILBIN: There is no feud. There is no feud. And she, meanwhile, has got Broadway, which I think is a life-long dream for her. And believe me, she's enjoying the heck out of it. So both of us have had good years, and we're happy for each other.

KING: Are you going to do any celebrity "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and let them give it to charity, and have famous people play it?

PHILBIN: Yes, that's a great idea, and we plan on doing that. You know, Rosie O'Donnell has been absolutely sensational. I mean, she reviews the show every day.

KING: She's ape for it, right? Yes, she's wacko.

PHILBIN: She's made herself up to be a phone-a-friend, I mean, and a couple of people have had her on their lists but they didn't get to play the game. She would be terrific, or at least we think she would be terrific.

KING: Yes.

PHILBIN: She really is a trivia buff.

Yes, there's going to be a celebrity game, and we're going to see, you know, who wins that. That will be...

KING: Did I read somewhere that there's also going to be a show one night during Super Bowl week where you're only doing one show that week, all on football?

PHILBIN: No, we're going to be on four nights that week instead of three, and on the Saturday before the Super Bowl game, Saturday night, we're going to have a show devoted to Super Bowls and the heroes and the games, and, you know, the inside of the Super Bowl. And we hope to have a lot of knowledgeable people about the NFL and about Super Bowls to play it.

KING: So instead of doing one show, that one show, you're doing four shows, adding a show for the Super Bowl? ?

PHILBIN: Yes, yes. But Larry, we are going to do -- we do three shows a week now. So that particular week, which is coming up real soon, we'll do an additional show that will air the night before the Super Bowl. KING: Regis, why not just do it every night? Twenty-eight million, why not just go seven nights a week, Regis? Why not? Come on.

PHILBIN: It's kind of a strain. It's a strain, you know, a strain on the writers. It's a strain on the producers, everybody, you know. I mean, we did 14 nights in a row. We know what that's like. And we just can't...

KING: What is that like?

PHILBIN: It's tough. It is. You know, it's not a live show. You have to stop and regroup, and it takes two and a half hours. And by the time it's over, you feel it.

KING: So you're working at this? This is no "come in for an hour, let's go home, pal"?

PHILBIN: Well, you know, I am so used to live TV, Larry, that...

KING: Yes, me too.

PHILBIN: ... that we're spoiled. You and I are spoiled.

KING: Absolutely.

PHILBIN: And to make the transition to tape, with all of the problems that go in a taped show, it took me a long time to get used to it. I mean, I just couldn't understand why we were stopping tape. You know, things like that. And it was hard for me...

KING: Sounds familiar.

PHILBIN: ... to live with, but now I understand. Now I know, now I kind of put up with it as best I can.

KING: Before the show is over we're going to play the game. We are going to take your calls, too, from my pal -- and I tell you, everyone in the business who knows him is so happy that this happened to Regis, because no one deserves it more. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?")

PHILBIN: Are you ready, Dan?

DAN: Sure.

PHILBIN: This is a biggie. Here it is: The Earth is approximately how many miles away from the sun? 9.3 million, 39 million, 93 million, 193 million miles away from the sun.

DAN: Well, if this was a $4,000 question, I would tell you right now it's not 39, not 9.3. I am pretty sure it's 93, so I am going to make that my final answer.

PHILBIN: Guts ball, my friend, guts ball... DAN: Take a shot.

PHILBIN: ... all the way. Let me repeat this, is this your final answer?

DAN: This is my final answer.

PHILBIN: You just won a million dollars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: So Regis is working very hard, but this weekend he appears in Tunica, Mississippi and Biloxi, Mississippi at the Grand Casinos. He's going to be in nightclubs in Atlantic City in February. He starts a Florida tour with my buddy Rickles in Naples on March 4th.

This -- because it's so hard work, you figure this is time off, right? So you're doing nightclub acts?

PHILBIN: Well, you know, the Tunica and the Biloxi date we kind of set up in conjunction with NATB (ph), and then I find out we're not going to NATB this year, so...

(LAUGHTER)

And then Resorts is always fun. I'll be there with Julie Budd (ph) in the middle of President's Week in February. And then, of course, Don Rickles -- I talked with him today. He said you're still sending him notes, Larry, how great he is.

KING: I sent him -- he's great. He's a great -- you know that.

PHILBIN: I know, but the notes are getting on his nerves.

KING: OK. No more notes.

PHILBIN: Please!

KING: OK, thanks for telling me. I'm happy to hear that.

The Letterman thing...

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: You had angioplasty. I had bypass surgery with the same doctor who did David who I spoke to today. David was released today, doing super, out in five days.

Did you sense something serious that night when he told you he was going for angiogram?

PHILBIN: Yes, it was a different David Letterman. I sensed he was nervous about it. He was quite vulnerable. You know, he's very private, guarded. You don't hear much about really what's going on in his life through his show. So it was a unique moment.

And he confided to me that yes, he was going in. And he asked what my experience was, and of course, I guess he was expecting to have the same thing, the angioplasty, which, frankly, is a breeze compared to the bypass.

KING: Oh boy.

PHILBIN: But how long were you in the hospital?

KING: Seven days. Now it's five.

PHILBIN: He got out in five, yes.

KING: And then I had angioplasty 10 years later, and angioplasty is nothing compared to...

PHILBIN: No, no.

KING: ... compared to bypass surgery.

But you -- when he said he's going in for an angiogram because he has high cholesterol, you had to know it was more than that. If everybody who had high cholesterol went for angiograms, there would be lines around the block.

PHILBIN: Exactly, exactly. Well, but you never really know until you get that camera in there and you see just how congested everything is.

KING: How is your health, Rej?

PHILBIN: Well, I think I'm in pretty good shape unless you've heard something.

KING: Hold it. We've got a call. I'll come back and tell you about it.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: Thought that was funny, did you?

KING: I thought it was funny.

PHILBIN: Stuart Varney broke up tonight.

KING: Stuart Varney?

PHILBIN: Stuart Varney standing by...

KING: Actually laughed.

PHILBIN: Just in case you don't answer these questions, Stuart Varney wants your seat.

KING: And we're going to do that right after these words and then your calls for the man, Regis. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?")

PHILBIN: Put these prime time television dramas in the order they debuted, starting with the earliest.

"Melrose Place"; "Dawson's Creek"; "Beverly Hills 90210"; "Party of Five."

All right, everybody. Time's up. Let's see the answer in the correct order starting with the earliest show: "Beverly Hills 90210"; "Melrose Place"; "Party of Five"; Dawson's Creek." That's the right order. Let's see who got it right now and in the fastest time.

And the winner is Meredith Mansfield (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Regis Philbin. This is a short portion, and then we break, and then we'll come back, we'll do the quiz and take calls. So a couple of questions in here.

The way contestants are selected, there was early criticism there were only males. How is that done?

PHILBIN: Well, it's done over the phone, Larry. There is a number that you can call. It's an 800 number. And you're giving a test over the phone. And if you complete this short test correctly and in the least amount of time, then you may get a call back. I guess there's an additional test. You pass that in the shortest amount of time and then you're up for selection to be flown to New York.

KING: And they fly you in?

PHILBIN: We fly you and your wife, your girlfriend, whoever you'd like to join you for this.

KING: And your chances of getting on, though -- if you don't answer in that one night, you blow it, right?

PHILBIN: It's one call per day per -- one call per contestant per day, yes. You can call -- you can call the next day.

KING: I see. You can. This is hard to get on then, though, right?

PHILBIN: Oh, yes, it's very hard, because hundreds of thousands of people are calling. And those are the odds against you.

KING: And the tie-in with AT&T, which some critics have said is brilliant commercialism to get all of that plugs in for AT&T? PHILBIN: Well, we have to get somebody to find these people. Everybody who comes on the show gives us a list of five phone friends and their phone numbers, and AT&T is the vehicle we use to get them on the line, bring them to our show.

KING: So there's a lot of work in getting all of this together. Those people are all waiting, right?

PHILBIN: There's a lot of logistical work that people don't understand, because you've got 10 different contestants, five phone friends. There's 50 people out there waiting by their telephones just in case their man or gal gets selected.

KING: Have you had anybody yet contest an answer in that they said, wait a minute, you're wrong, I'm right?

PHILBIN: Oh, absolutely. Remember the guy that -- let's see. The question was, Which is the largest of the Great Lakes? Incidentally, Larry, which one is it?

KING: Erie. No, no, no, not Erie. I -- see, I would guess Ontario.

PHILBIN: Larry! Ontario?

KING: Yes.

PHILBIN: Erie and Ontario are two of the smallest.

KING: See.

PHILBIN: Now here's the thing. I thought it was...

KING: Yes, you knew this, right?

PHILBIN: I thought it was Lake Superior, but the guy said Lake Michigan. No, the guy said Lake Superior -- I can't remember. But there was a debate between Superior and Michigan. Turns out he was right. He said Michigan. We looked it up in the books. Our research was wrong. The fellow was right. It was Michigan.

KING: So you brought him back?

PHILBIN: We brought him back and he went on to win more money.

KING: What category is hard, like geography is tough for me. What category would be hardest for you, if you were a contestant?

PHILBIN: Well, I think maybe science. Geography is my meat. Are you kidding? I love it!

Science is tough. Modern art may be tough. There's a wide variety here. That's how we get you, Larry.

KING: That's right. PHILBIN: There's a beautiful range in there, and if you weren't -- if your education didn't cover it or your life experience didn't cover it, you could lose easily.

KING: Yes. All right. We'll play the game a little with Regis...

PHILBIN: I can't wait.

KING: ... and take your phone calls.

PHILBIN: I want you, Larry King!

KING: We're going -- we'll be back.

PHILBIN: I want you, Larry King!

KING: Come on down!

PHILBIN: I want you!

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Did I get the questions in the fastest order? Am I next?

PHILBIN: You're next!

(LAUGHTER)

Larry King is next! I want him!

KING: Two guys making all this money, having laughs -- I mean, it is crazy, isn't it, Regis? They're paying us for this.

PHILBIN: Yes, it really is.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be right back with Regis Philbin. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?")

PHILBIN: Which of the following months has no U.S. federal holiday?

(LAUGHTER)

Of all the guys to get this question!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want me to read off the -- when the federal holidays are in the...

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: Just give us the month.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no federal holiday in August, A.

PHILBIN: All right. So A then is your...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final answer.

PHILBIN: Of course he's right. Yes indeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "Live With Regis and Kathy Lee," now in its 12th year, and he also hosts the most popular show in American television, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" He's Regis Philbin -- go.

PHILBIN: Okay, Larry, listen I'm going to forego the first four questions, because one of them was the goose question that you saw on TV, and they're relatively easy. They're for children, Larry.

KING: OK, let's go with the thousand-dollars one?

PHILBIN: Here we go, the thousand dollar question: Which of the following gives plants their green color? Is it chlorophyll, carotene, calcium or chlorine?

KING: Chlorophyll.

PHILBIN: Got it, for $1,000. Two-thousand dollars -- how far can a car going 60 miles an hour travel in one minute. Would it be one mile, six miles, 10 miles or 60 miles?

KING: Sixty miles an hour in one minute?

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: One mile.

PHILBIN: There you go. Four-thousand dollars, Larry King -- before joining the boy bad 'N Sync, two members were regulars on what children's TV show, "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company," "Mickey Mouse Club," "Barney and Friends?"

KING: See, now this will be a guess, so I'd say "Mickey Mouse Club."

PHILBIN: And you guessed right. You won $4,000.

KING: Pure guess.

PHILBIN: OK.

KING: And help of a producer. So let's say I would have called her. So OK, she gave me the answer.

PHILBIN: All right, now you used your phone-a-friend.

KING: So I've used my phone help.

PHILBIN: You've called everybody from CNN and L.A., sitting around the studio, whispering, Larry, Larry.

KING: OK, so I got one help, so I'm only down to the audience now, OK.

PHILBIN: For $8,000, Larry King, how many crayons came in the first Crayola box to contain a built-in sharpener. Was it at eight, 16, 32 or 64?

KING: Sixty-four.

PHILBIN: Come on, Larry. Somebody's helping you.

KING: I was a Crayola freak. No, I love Crayola Crayons. You're right up my alley with this one.

PHILBIN: Sixteen-thousand dollars, here we go.

KING: Now I'm nervous.

PHILBIN: Until mid-December 1999, where did protester Julia Butterfly Hill live full time for two years? Was it atop a billboard, in a redwood tree, in cage at the zoo, in a box on the sidewalk? Julia Butterfly Hill?

KING: The redwood tree. The redwood tree.

PHILBIN: I hear people talking back there!

KING: OK, I used the audience.

PHILBIN: No talking.

KING: OK, now I'm out of help, no more help. I used the audience on that, OK.

PHILBIN: Thirty-two thousand.

KING: I got no more help left.

PHILBIN: All right.

KING: OK, see how honest I am?

PHILBIN: The organization that won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize was started by a group of what? Teachers, lawyers, doctors, architects?

KING: Doctors.

PHILBIN: If I...

KING: That I know.

PHILBIN: OK, 64.

KING: I had dinner with one of them.

PHILBIN: You're getting up there, Larry.

KING: OK.

PHILBIN: Matthew Brady became famous for his photographs of what American war?

KING: Civil. Don't even give me the four.

PHILBIN: You know what? I've only got...

KING: Come on, Regis -- go.

PHILBIN: I've got four more.

KING: One-hundred and twenty-five thousand, Larry King -- what is the name of the dog on the packages of the popular snack food Cracker Jacks? Spot, Bingo, Chance, Fido?

PHILBIN: Chance is my son's name. I know it's not Chance. Cracker Jacks -- this is a pure guess -- Bingo. But that would be -- that's a guess.

PHILBIN: Larry, I swear to God, if somebody's giving you these answers, I am going to find out about it. You won...

KING: You can't stand it, can you, Reg?

PHILBIN: I can't stand it!

KING: I am going to make celebrity game, aren't I, Reg?

PHILBIN: Stuart Varney is standing here with his tongue hanging out, because if Ted Turner sees you miss these, you're gone.

KING: OK.

PHILBIN: Here we go $250,000, Larry King, a quarter million -- which of these animals is reportedly responsible for most of the human deaths in Africa? Lion, Crocodile, Hippo, or Cape Buffalo? I got you now.

KING: This is a pure guess. And no one is helping me. Lion...

PHILBIN: Lion, crocodile, hippo or cape buffalo.

KING: Well, I'll take the least likely, cape buffalo. Because you'd think lion, you know -- crocodile -- so cape buffalo, they seem the nicest -- cape buffalo.

PHILBIN: No, the answer was hippo, hippo. KING: Who would -- a hippo can't chase you.

PHILBIN: You would have been reduced, Larry.

KING: I want to contest that answer.

PHILBIN: OK.

KING: I want to contest that answer.

PHILBIN: All right.

KING: Well, how does a hippo get you? You see a hippo, you run. A hippo goes one mile an hour.

PHILBIN: A hippo, you know, tongues you to death, you know what I mean? He just eats -- here we go for the $500,000.

KING: OK, I missed it, but we'll go anyway.

PHILBIN: What ship is believed to have passed by the Titanic, ignoring distress signals, passed by the Titanic.

KING: Saw the movie.

PHILBIN: Sirius (ph), Californian, Carpathia (ph) and The Kimp (ph) -- passed by it.

KING: I don't know. Carpathia, I'd guess. That's a guess.

PHILBIN: No, Carpathia picked it up. It was the Californian. Now let me give you the million dollars.

KING: What was the million dollars?

I didn't do bad. I would have taken home $32,000.

PHILBIN: You're doing better than I thought, believe me.

In what country are all major U.S. baseballs currently manufactured? Costa Rica...

KING: Haiti -- give me the money. There you go. Give me the money -- Haiti. Give me the million. You could make the check out to the Larry King Cardiac Foundation -- Haiti.

PHILBIN: Hey, listen, Mr. Bigshot, you've missed the last three. They're made in Costa Rica!

KING: You're kidding me, right?

PHILBIN: I am not kidding.

KING: I challenge that one. When did they leave Haiti?

PHILBIN: I don't know. Larry King is challenging everybody! KING: By the way, the only one I would have got on the million definitely was the Richard Nixon answer, who went on "Laugh-In?" And that guy set you up good -- call my father.

PHILBIN: But don't forget, but you see, Larry, here's the thing -- yes, that was interesting the way he did that. But the guy is 31 years old. Nixon was on "Laugh-In" 31 years ago. You remember it, I remember it. But don't forget, he was a baby then.

KING: Yes, how well would you do on the show, do you think? Here's an example. I did OK. I got help. How well would you do, do you think?

PHILBIN: I would probably do the same, you know. I don't think I could go all the way. It's very difficult. Sooner or later, Larry, you're going to run into a question that you're not familiar with.

KING: Like that million answer to me for Nixon was easy.

PHILBIN: Absolutely.

KING: Who knew from the hippo and Africa? That's tough.

PHILBIN: Cape buffalo.

KING: Cape buffalo -- what is cape...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with your phone call. My national treasure is sinking in the West. We'll be back with your calls for Regis after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Let's go for million.

(APPLAUSE)

PHILBIN: Which of these U.S. presidents appeared on the television series "Laugh-In"? Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford?

JOHN CARPENTER: I'd like to call my parents right now .

PHILBIN: Sure.

CARPENTER: Use my lifeline, call my parents.

PHILBIN: What are their names?

CARPENTER: My father. I want to talk to my father.

PHILBIN: Does he have a name?

CARPENTER: Tom. He does have a name, yes, Tom. Hi, dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.

CARPENTER: I don't really need your help. I just wanted to let you know that I am going to win the million dollars.

(APPLAUSE)

CARPENTER: Because the U.S. president who appeared on "Laugh-In" is Richard Nixon. That's my final answer.

PHILBIN: Well, my gosh, what can I say except, Debbie, you're going to Paris, and this is the final answer heard all around the world -- he's won a million dollars!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's go to your calls for Regis Philbin, the host of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," back tomorrow night.

Lindenhurst. Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Regis.

PHILBIN: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I love your show. My 6-year-old grandson watches "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and could have gotten a couple of the questions. My question is, will there be a special episode which would allow children to be contestants?

KING: Ah-ha.

PHILBIN: Well, that hasn't come up yet, but we are -- we love having the kids join us, and that might be a good idea for the future.

KING: To Fort Lewis, Washington, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question for Regis is, when someone wins money, how much of their winnings goes to taxes, and how is the tax situation arranged with contestants?

PHILBIN: Well, they are taxed exactly the way you and I are, according to your state you live in and the national taxes, and there is a city tax as well. That money is taken out and you receive the remainder.

KING: They remove it there, right?

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: So you have to know what bracket -- you have to fill out your dependent list and all of that...

PHILBIN: Exactly.

KING: ... right?

PHILBIN: Sure.

KING: Now, what do you think -- one of the shows, I see, hands out cash.

PHILBIN: Oh, yes, I noticed that.

KING: I think Maury Povich. Is that "Twenty-One"?

PHILBIN: Yes, I think it is "Twenty-One."

KING: I think I saw once he was handing money to people.

PHILBIN: They put it in a basket, yes, I guess they take some of it back at the end. Or maybe it is tax free. I don't know. I don't know what their rules are.

KING: Now, if you win it in New York, you pay a New York state tax too, right?

PHILBIN: Absolutely.

KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, hi, Regis.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My family and I really get a kick out of your show, Regis.

PHILBIN: Good.

CALLER: My question is, when you know the contestant is giving you the wrong answer and a lot of money is at stake, how do you keep your poker face?

KING: Good question.

PHILBIN: Well, I tell you it's like a dagger sometimes in my heart, because, you know, even though we are just meeting for a few minutes, you do form an attachment to them, you know how important it is to them, you want them to win. And so when you hear them come out with that wrong answer, and then you have got to say again, is that your final answer, hoping that they may reconsider. And then they say, yes, it is my final answer, well, you just feel terrible for them.

KING: You also have to -- you're very understanding, I noticed, and handle very well when someone says, hey, I am going to take the 125.

PHILBIN: I understand that perfectly, sure. There's a lot of money at stake. You can see it in their eyes -- they don't have answer, they don't have a lifeline left. What are they to do? Take a guess and leave, you know, maybe a quarter million dollars on the table? No, nobody's going to do that. They take it and go, and I can't blame them.

KING: Do you remember the old "Honeymooners" thing, where Gleason goes on, knows the music, and misses the $8 question. Has anyone missed $100-dollar question?

PHILBIN: Yes, as a matter of fact, we had a real sharp 22-year- old guy who had just joined the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and was the youngest member of that exchange. The question was, who did Hannibal -- what animal did Hannibal take across the Alps with him? Was it -- let me give this one to you. Was it a yak? Was it a camel? Was it an elephant? Or was it a dog?

KING: I guess -- I am going to guess elephant, but that's a guess. I am not a Hannibal...

PHILBIN: And you're right, yes.

KING: OK, what did he say?

PHILBIN: He said it was a -- I think he went for the yak, and...

KING: So what did you say to him? He goes away with nothing?

PHILBIN: Well, it was a terrible moment. I felt for the young guy because you know those guys at the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago were going to be all over him the next day, and I am sure they were.

KING: Jackson, Mississippi, for the Reg, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Regis.

PHILBIN: Hi.

CALLER: My question is about the rules in -- about -- in the phone-a-friend?

PHILBIN: Yes.

CALLER: It seemed like the other night, when the contestant was reading the question, the phone-a-friend was repeating the question. Are they allowed to have help there with them? Can they ask people in the room with them for help if they...

KING: I don't know how you could prevent that.

PHILBIN: You know, I noticed that too for the first time. Yes, somebody did repeat the question, and I thought I heard another voice, but I -- Larry is right. How do you stop that? How did I stop Larry King from 50 people in the studio guiding him through the questions I asked him?

KING: You know what, though? One thing I have known about you, Reg, over all of these years -- when you get on something, you never get off it, do you? Tomorrow morning, you -- the second thing you will say to Kathy is, last night I give it to Larry, he's got 15 people helping him. I know you. You get -- you get -- you're like Rickles in that regard.

PHILBIN: I love it.

KING: You get worked up on something...

PHILBIN: I love it.

KING: ... you get driven.

How do you think Rickles would do as host of this show, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

PHILBIN: The host? I think he'd do very well. You know, we both love him, love him a lot. He's the greatest.

KING: The best.

PHILBIN: So happy to be with him on in this Florida tour we're going to make in March. We're going to go to about seven cities together, and...

KING: And after spring training I am going to come down and catch one.

PHILBIN: And Rickles and I are going to go -- I think, I hope -- to the Yankees' camp, and take a peak at how they look this year.

KING: They don't look -- what do you think of all that money today for the short stop?

PHILBIN: Isn't that something? Well, he's the brightest star in the American League, I think, and a brilliant future. And I guess that's what it took to keep him here in New York. I know he wanted to stay here. Seven years, almost 17 million a year, the highest paid guy in baseball.

KING: And anyone going to beat the Rams?

PHILBIN: Boy, they look good, don't they? KING: Whew.

PHILBIN: Oh, my gosh, I don't know. I -- they're for real. They really are.

KING: Yes.

Back with more of my man, Regis Philbin, on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KATHY LEE")

ROBERTO BENIGNI, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Let me say about my -- my manifestation of love...

PHILBIN: Yes.

BENIGNI: ... for you both...

PHILBIN: Yes.

BENIGNI: ... because you're a legend.

PHILBIN: Yes?

BENIGNI: Yes, I know...

PHILBIN: Even in Italy?

BENIGNI: Oh, yes. You are like the leaning Tower of Pizza.

PHILBIN: Oh, my God.

BENIGNI: Everybody knows you.

PHILBIN: Oh, my God.

KATHY LEE GIFFORD: The crumbling Tower of Pizza.

BENIGNI: When they told me about Regis and Kathy Lee, I jumped.

PHILBIN: Yes.

BENIGNI: Yes.

GIFFORD: Legend -- I like that.

PHILBIN: We're happy to have you here, really.

BENIGNI: How long are you married? Nor married?

PHILBIN: Not married.

BENIGNI: Just work together?

PHILBIN: Thirteen and a half years, sitting here together. GIFFORD: Together.

BENIGNI: Oh.

GIFFORD: But married to other people.

PHILBIN: Yes, we got a divorce between ourselves a long time ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Regis Philbin.

You missed it tonight, but "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" is back tomorrow, fear not.

Potomac, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Regis.

PHILBIN: Hi.

CALLER: Just wondering if you encourage the contestants to think out loud while they're looking at the answers?

PHILBIN: Well, I don't, but other people have asked me that, and maybe they are encouraged by the staff. I am not sure about that. I would like to find out myself, but I think sometimes it helps them to express themselves, think out loud, and perhaps stumble on the answer that way if they're hung up.

KING: St. Louis, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Regis.

PHILBIN: Hi.

CALLER: You seem to have a wonderful relationship with Joy. What are the greatest strengths of your marriage, and do you foresee Joy ever doing television in the future?

PHILBIN: Well, Joy has a show, "Haven," it's a syndicated show. It is on once a week. It deals with decorating. And frankly, I think she's quite good at it. And I love having her as a substitute for Kathy Lee, because you see the basis of a successful duo on television is the history. Kathy Lee and I, 15 years, and that helps a lot. Joy and I even longer than that. So it's very important, and you can't explain it to anybody who is not on camera with somebody else, but that is the basis of it.

Yes, I think she's great on TV.

KING: Regis, when you're holding the card and the question appears up on the screen, do you see the answer at that minute? PHILBIN: No, I don't. I don't see the answer until they say, yes, it's my final answer.

KING: Ah.

PHILBIN: Once they say...

KING: So you don't know what it is until they say final answer?

PHILBIN: That's exactly right.

KING: And you like it that way?

PHILBIN: Well, yes. I think it helps. I think it's the right way to do it. It prevents me from -- if I am getting attached to someone to help them at all, I can't help them. I don't know what the official answer is.

KING: Phoenix, Arizona, hello?

Phoenix, are you there?

PHILBIN: Phoenix, go ahead.

KING: Are you there? Regis, you say it.

Phoenix...

PHILBIN: Phoenix, go ahead.

KING: Are you there?

PHILBIN: I guess not.

KING: OK. I guess Phoenix dropped out. And that was the million-dollar question, Reg. You missed it.

PHILBIN: OK.

KING: What's the largest city in Arizona?

PHILBIN: The largest city is Phoenix.

KING: Oh, you were late.

(LAUGHTER)

Ah, live television.

We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KATHY LEE")

PHILBIN: It's the Stone Cold Stunner?

KATHY LEE GIFFORD, CO-HOST: Stunner.

PHILBIN: Stunner. Yes, all right, fine.

STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, WRESTLER: And I can't really -- I'll just...

PHILBIN: Hey! Usually I make guys in the Bronx flinch when I do that.

AUSTIN: I thought you sneezed.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: What do you want? What do you want? Want me to come after you?

AUSTIN: No, I don't want you to come after me. I'd kill you.

(LAUGHTER)

But if you want to know what the Stunner is, you've got to wear a guy down. You know, right off the bat, it's not...

PHILBIN: You get him worn down...

AUSTIN: You get him worn down. The first thing I'm going to do to set it up is I'm going...

PHILBIN: Take it easy!

AUSTIN: Easy, easy. This is for the "Regis and Kathy Lee" show.

Bam, I'm going to set you up with a gut shop...

PHILBIN: I pick up your leg like that and put you right down.

(LAUGHTER)

AUSTIN: I'd have to cut the flip and knock your lights out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Regis Philbin. Bergen County, New Jersey, hello.

STUART VARNEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Larry. This is Stuart Varney.

KING: It's Stuart Varney! He ran home and called in.

VARNEY: I watch the show regularly, and I've got a question for Regis.

PHILBIN: OK, Stuart.

KING: Go, Stuart. I watched you tonight with Ted Turner. That was very good.

VARNEY: Well, thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Got a good answer there on Jim Rocker.

VARNEY: Yes, I liked it too.

KING: John Rocker, I'm sorry.

PHILBIN: John Rocker, Larry.

KING: They're keeping him. I missed, OK? It was a hundred- dollar question.

PHILBIN: I challenge that.

VARNEY: Well, here's a question for Regis...

KING: Go.

PHILBIN: Yes.

VARNEY: ... that he should know the answer to, because he answered it on his show the other day. What's the capital of Australia?

PHILBIN: The capital of Australia is Canberra.

VARNEY: Oh, very good.

PHILBIN: Huh? Huh, Stuart Varney?

VARNEY: That's a hundred-dollar question.

PHILBIN: All right.

KING: Now wait a minute. How did you know that, Regis?

PHILBIN: How did I know it?

KING: Oh, geography. It's your ball game.

PHILBIN: Just basic knowledge. Yes, Larry, sure.

KING: Stuart, you watch Regis' show?

VARNEY: Whenever I can.

KING: What is -- what is the kick you get out of it?

VARNEY: Oh, trying to answer the questions with everybody else, I guess.

KING: So...

PHILBIN: Stuart -- Stuart, can I ask you a question? VARNEY: Go ahead.

PHILBIN: Would you like to do Larry King's show?

VARNEY: Oh, I'd give my right arm.

PHILBIN: That's what I thought. OK. That's all I want to know.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Regis will handle it.

Stuart, with the market, how is it -- Regis, you've got a question about a stock?

PHILBIN: Yes, Stuart, uh...

KING: You've got so many.

PHILBIN: The market seems to be very, very flexible so far this year. What are your thoughts?

VARNEY: Oh, I think Time Warner is a terrific stock, and you should buy it, Regis. And that's a million-dollar stock.

PHILBIN: I already have it. Is that merger going to go through with AOL?

VARNEY: It is, and you should buy some more.

PHILBIN: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Thank you, Stuart.

Stuart Varney, ran home to call in.

PHILBIN: Stuart a company man.

KING: Regis, at this point in a career, it must be extraordinary to have something like this happen late in a career.

PHILBIN: How late is it, Larry?

KING: Well, I mean, you know, you're not 35.

PHILBIN: No, I know exactly what you're saying, and it is. It's -- I never expected it. I never really wanted anymore than what we have in the morning, never really dreamed of it.

I thought, you know, I'd climbed all my mountains, and then suddenly this comes along and never dreamed it would be this big. And then all of a sudden it's another mountain, and we're on top, and it's a great feeling, and I love it.

KING: You're also understanding of the business. Do you have any fear that it could go down quickly?

PHILBIN: Oh, I know it's going to be over soon.

KING: Really?

PHILBIN: Or someday. Not maybe soon -- I shouldn't have said soon. I don't know how long it will last. But it's so hot, and I have learned that in this business, the hotter you are the sooner the flame dies out. That's why I never got hot to begin with. Do you understand me, Larry?

(LAUGHTER)

OK.

KING: When anything is first, though -- whether it's a CNN or "USA Today" or ESPN, very hard to take it on, isn't it?

PHILBIN: Oh, absolutely.

KING: I mean, these other shows are up against it when something hits early.

PHILBIN: Look, we had a show that was all planned, all plotted and working in working order over in England. We inherited that. We had a jump on most everybody else.

So we appreciate that, and we got the ball and we're running with it. And so far we're ahead.

KING: Now, is it still popular in England?

PHILBIN: Oh, yes. They still have it as an event. You know, about 14 straight nights and then they take it off for a while and then they bring it back, which is a beautiful way to go. And they're flying high over there.

KING: Do you think ABC might someday do that, take that concept of let's do it every four months?

PHILBIN: Well, they might. You know, I don't know what they're going to do. But right now they need the program in there more than once a week, and so that's why we're there more than once a week and every week. But one day, it may go back to the event thing. We don't know.

KING: Regis, it's terrific calling you a friend, and I'm not kidding. You -- you deserve all you get here.

PHILBIN: Thanks, Larry. I hope -- I hope you're not too upset with all my kidding tonight. You were really terrific.

KING: No, you're a good guy.

PHILBIN: OK, buddy. Take care.

KING: You too. Regis Philbin, the host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" television's hottest show.

Tomorrow night, we've got an exclusive: the first live appearance to discuss artificial insemination and sperm donation: David Crosby and his wife, Melissa Etheridge and her partner. David Crosby, his wife; Melissa Etheridge, her partner -- all altogether on LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night.

On CNN NEWSSTAND, which follows immediately, they're going to discuss charges of murder decades after the crime.

That's next. Thanks for joining us. Good-night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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