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Replacing Regis Philbin: Grading 6 top candidates
Neil Patrick Harris? Anderson Cooper? Who will step in when the 79-year-old co-host of "Live! With Regis and Kelly" retires later this year?
'Live! With Mark Consuelos and Kelly'? Some commentators think the husband-and-wife team should take over as co-hosts of the popular morning show.
'Live! With Mark Consuelos and Kelly'? Some commentators think the husband-and-wife team should take over as co-hosts of the popular morning show.
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T

alk-show host Regis Philbin, 79, surprised his audience on Tuesday with the announcement that he'll be retiring from "Live! With Regis and Kelly," the talk show he's co-hosted for 28 years. (Watch an AP report about Philbin's departure.) With Larry King and Oprah exiting their eponymous shows, too, says Liz Kelly in The Washington Post, "we may be witnessing the end of [a TV] era." Who could replace Philbin — a uniquely charismatic "pop culture icon" — on "Live!"? Here are six names that have been floated:

1. Mark Consuelos
Kelly Ripa's husband, who has guest-hosted the show many times, is one name critics are tossing around. He and Ripa have "built-in chemistry," plus they "look good" and "work well together," says MediaWeek's Marc Berman, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter. A bonus: Consuelos is "also pretty easy on the eyes," says Soraya Roberts in the Daily News, and "appears to have no other commitments."

2. Anderson Cooper
CNN's Anderson Cooper filled in when Philbin had a triple bypass in 2007, and the silver fox did quite well, says Roberts. But, he has his own new talk show, "Anderson," starting up in September. And I have to wonder, says Ujala Sehgal at Business Insider, if adding an earnest newsman would "make the show too serious."

3. Jeff Probst
The "Survivor" host is another rumored front-runner. "He's done it before, and I think he could fill that chair pretty comfortably," says MediaWeek's Berman, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter. Yes, but there's a "hitch," says Roberts in the Daily News. "The three-time Emmy Award winner [has] signed on to host two more seasons of 'Survivor.'"

4. Neil Patrick Harris
"He's my No. 1 pick," says MediaWeek's Berman, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter. The star of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" is "well-known and well-liked," and he could bring in a younger audience. He's guest-hosted the show before, says The Huffington Post, and "he and Ripa are good friends — she even helped him throw a surprise party for his partner." Sure, says Roberts, but "would he give up his day job as the award-winning member of the 'Mother' cast?" And would the show have to be called, awkwardly, "Live! With Neil Patrick and Kelly"?

5. Ryan Seacrest
According to Extra, ABC, the network that airs "Live," is looking to make a multi-part, "blockbuster deal" with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest. The network has already secured him for "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve," and they might want to add Regis' spot to the deal. And his contract with "Idol" will soon "be up for the first time in years." Hmmm, says The Huffington Post, "what better way to extend Seacrest's burgeoning media empire than to take Regis' place?"

6. Kathy Griffin
Comic and walking controversy Kathy Griffin would be a "fun choice," says Tim Nudd in People. She "energizes any talk show she's on." Yes, says Amber James at PopEater, if Griffin could be counted on to "tone down her comedy (and insults) for daytime TV, she would be a shoo-in as a 'Live' co-host."

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