Regis Philbin to Retire -- Who to Co-Host with Ripa?

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Kelly Ripa, Mark ConsuelosHayley and Mateo Ride Again?

Unless you've just returned from Mars, you're aware that Live! With Regis and Kelly talk show co-host, Regis Philbin, announced yesterday on air – much to everyone's surprise, even "Pipa's "-- that he would be retiring in the summer of 2011. At 79 years old, he deserves some rest and relaxation, but that doesn't mean his announcement left everyone with a dropped jaw.

The question is who will replace him? After 28 years as co-host, Philbin is leaving some pretty big shoes to fill. Kelly Ripa (ex Haley, All My Children) has certainly won hearts and has become a daytime talk show queen in her own right, almost making viewers totally forget the Regis and Kathy Lee (Gifford) show of yesteryear. ABC knows they have a winner in Ripa, but who to team her with? Someone to not necessarily fill Regis' shoes, but be as great a partner for her as he is.

Soapdom has a few ideas. How about Ripa's real life husband, Mark Consuelos? They've been paired a few times before. Consuelos has guest-hosted Live! when Regis took time off. (Other hosting duties include co-hosting Oprah Live Fridays for a season when Oprah did a live commentary show -- along the lines of The View -- every Friday from her Chicago Harpo Studios.)

Of course, to All My Children fans, the pairing of Hayley and Mateo (Ripa and Consuelos) kindles fond memories of each stars' time in soapdom. In fact, Ripa and Consuelos met and married while working as a super couple, Hayley and Mateo, on AMC.

They've got the chemistry, the camaraderie and a house full of kids to fuel the morning show banter. But will it be too one dimensional, being a happily married couple?

According to Jerry Springer, no. "For years there was a show in Britain, Richard and Judy, and they married. People loved it. When you watched them in the morning, you could tell whether they had an argument at home the night before. It was the dominant morning show," Springer said of a possible Consuelos-Ripa daily team-up. "It could work. It would be a different show."

Soapdom's other idea is Cameron Mathison, another very popular fan favorite star from All My Children. His hosting experience includes "I Wanna Be a Soap Star," for SOAPNet, and he's a correspondent for one of the evening entertainment shows. He is such a popular character on All My Children, however, we doubt the network will pull him from there.

Our last suggestion is Ty Treadway, another former soap star (One Life to Live; Days of our Lives) with a popular following. Treadway was the co-host of SOAPnet's Daytime Emmy Award nominated SoapTalk for several years, along with hosting the short-lived game show "Crossroads." Originally an accountant and computer engineer from New Jersey, geek turned hunk Treadway is drop dead gorgeous, has a fun sense of humor and a long standing relationship with ABC/Disney.

Soapdom's recommendations not with standing, entertainment industry professionals have been speculating all morning. Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic, Tim Goodman, MediaWeek's Marc Berman and Jerry Springer have all weighed in.

Goodman's first choice, is comedian Greg Proops He "has been doing all kinds of strange and great things that are always hilarious," Goodman said. "He's likable, has the fastest comic timing alive and would certainly perk up a morning." He also suggested comedian Amy Sedaris, "who would be absolutely perfect." "Let's not forget, she's handy -- and a proven hostess," Goodman noted.
Lastly, he offered Wayne Brady.

Berman's first choice is Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). He's not only got hosting experience under his belt (The Tony Awards), but he's a stage director as well, directing the Los Angeles production of "Rent," last summer. "He's my No. 1 pick," Berman said. "He's well-known and well-liked. He'd be very good next to [Kelly]; he's entertaining. People want to learn more about him, and he'd bring a whole different perspective to that show."

Berman's next suggestion? Mark Consuelos! (Great minds think alike. So far that's Soapdom, Springer and Berman all for Consuelos!)

Berman also recommends Andy Richter (Conan O'Brien's sidekick), Survivor host, the popular Jeff Probst, and Howie Mandel.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, however, Berman noted Mandel's likeability factor, but made mention of the risk in hiring naturally funny people. "People like him, and he's funny. The obstacle is, you don't want to do a stand-up act every day," he said. "You want the co-host to be someone you're comfortable with, who you want to watch every day."

And what about Jerry Springer himself? Springer said he could not even put himself in the running. "I'm with NBC and they wouldn't let me go. I'm under contract with them," he said.

Who would you like to see co-host Live!?