ABC Contemplates 'Life’ Without Regis

It appears that ABC’s planned revival of This Is Your Life with Regis Philbin as host is not to be.

The update of the classic show—in which celebrity guests are ambushed and subjected to a real-time biographical review—was conceived last fall as a six-episode series and marks the third attempted revival since the original debuted on NBC in 1952.

But Philbin tells B&C that the six-month option on his contract has run out. An ABC spokesperson says the network may still go forward with the show, but without Philbin, who declined to extend the option.

This is, of course, bad news for anyone who’s ever thought, “You know, I’m just not seeing enough of The Reege on TV.”

The new Life had promised to supplement America’s primetime dose of Philbin, who has already made his triumphant post-Who Wants To Be a Millionaire return on NBC’s summer hit America’s Got Talent.

Alas, the nation will have to subsist on its weekday intake of Live With Regis and Kelly. And, of course, its twice-weekly portion of America’s Got Talent. And if the replays of Millionaire on Game Show Network won’t do, there’s always a good chance that Regis will turn up on Letterman.

Upper Crust

Looks like Forbes is angling to be the next Entertainment Tonight.

After finding success with weekend business gabfest Forbes on Fox on Fox News Channel, the venerable business publisher has its sights set on syndication gold.

According to a source inside the Forbes operation, the publication is developing a pilot for a daily entertainment/lifestyle/business show spotlighting the gilded lives of the leisure class and evoking the blue-blood sensibility of its ForbesLife title (formerly Forbes FYI).

The project gained steam after Forbes Celebrity 100, a one-off special on E!, performed well a couple of weeks ago. Bruce Perlmutter, a veteran of ABC News, CNN and most recently MSNBC, has been brought in to executive-produce.

No talent has been attached, but there’s talk that ForbesLife editor and author Christopher Buckley may have an on-camera role in the project.

A Forbes spokesperson declined to comment. But word is that the folks at Forbes are looking for a first-run daily syndication deal and hope to have something to shop at the National Association of Television Programming Executives powwow in Las Vegas next January.

But with mainstays like ET, Extra and Access Hollywood crowding the field, Forbes may want to stick with cable.

Blurry Words

What have we done?

When B&C suggested back in March that broadcasters might have to start pixelating the mouths of anyone uttering profanity over the air to ensure they don’t run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission’s mercurial standards of broadcast indecency, the absurdity of the idea didn’t escape us.

But the double prophylactic of bleeping profanity and pixelating the source of the utterance seemed to be the logical conclusion to the indecency “guidance” that the FCC had just handed down, particularly the judgment passed on The WB’s Surreal Life 2.

The commission decided that pixelating sexual organs that appeared during a party scene in the reality show was insufficient since “it is unmistakable that partygoers are exposing and discussing sexual organs.”

By that measure, we reasoned, if it is “unmistakable” that someone is saying the F-word, even if it is bleeped out, then the FCC could throw a flag on the play.

Well, Fox started digitally obscuring potty mouths on all of its programs, and PBS told its stations in May that program producers should do likewise for profanity airing before 10 p.m.

Apparently, PBS President Paula Kerger has awoken to the absurdity, announcing at the Television Critics Association press tour last week that she would rethink the policy after having met with FCC commissioners and come away with “no clear guidance.”

For its part, the commission, through an unnamed official, says it has previously found bleeping to be sufficient and that it has never fined anyone who has bleeped bad words. Nor has it stated that the Surreal Life ruling will be a precedent for adjudicating bleeped profanity.

Lest you mistake that for a rare instance of “clear guidance” from the FCC, we’re told by some close to Chairman Kevin Martin that he has let it be known that networks are free to pixelate mouths if they believe it is in the interest of protecting children. However, they needn’t do it “on the FCC’s account.”

Got it?