Ben Mulroney says no one can replace Regis Philbin as Kelly Ripa’s co-host on “Live!,” but adds that he’d “think very hard” about joining the show if ever given the opportunity.
The comments came Thursday after the TV personality acted as Ripa’s guest host for the last of four “Live!” episodes taped in Banff, Alta.
During the show, Ripa joked about renaming the series “Live! with Kelly and Alpha-4″ if Mulroney got the job — a reference to the Canadian TV star’s childhood nickname, which Mulroney revealed in an anecdote during the opening segment.
“If you suck up to (executive producer Michael) Gelman, you never know, this could be your permanent chair,” Ripa told Mulroney, currently co-host of CTV’s “eTalk.”
After the broadcast, Mulroney remained coy about how seriously he’d consider a move to New York if invited to join the show.
“If an opportunity like that comes up you think very hard about taking it. But again, we’re not there right now. I don’t know where we are,” Mulroney said Thursday in a telephone interview.
“For all I know they already know who they’re picking and they’re simply biding their time until that person is contractually available.”
Mulroney is the latest celebrity to try co-hosting duties since Philbin retired last year.
The guest stints are seen by many as an informal audition.
During Thursday’s show, the former prime minister’s son told Ripa that Alpha-4 was a code name security officials used when they escorted him to school as a child.
Mulroney taped his episode Monday and said he was happy with the way it turned out.
“If you’re judging guest hosts against each other, then I probably come out favourably. If you judge it by the benchmark set by Regis, then all of us should be fired,” said Mulroney.
Other guest hosts this week included Ripa’s soap star husband Mark Consuelos, “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison and “Twilight” co-star Peter Facinelli.
Mulroney said he scored the guest spot by pitching himself to Gelman six months ago, knowing that the series would likely try out several potential hosts before settling on a permanent replacement for Philbin.
“I wasn’t doing it for any other reason except I always just wanted to sit in the chair. I still don’t think that I’m a front-runner in any way,” he said.
“But I said, ‘Look, I know what you’re going to do and I just want to let you know that I exist. It’s very hard for Americans to know that Canadians exist and so just please take note and if one day you sit there and you’re thinking to yourself, “Who the hell are we going to get for this show?” Just remember I’m a flight away.’ And I guess that’s what they did.”
Back when “Live!” first announced Mulroney as one of the guest hosts, Gelman spoke glowingly of the pick.
“He’s a great host, he’s very personable, he has a great sense of humour, and he’s a good family man,” Gelman said in a release issued March 15.
“I think all of those things put together will give him great chemistry with Kelly, and I think he’ll be a great host.”
During taping, Mulroney said he pushed aside any thoughts of possibly being in the running for a regular “Live!” gig.
“I think that’d be too much to handle in the moment, you’re already trying not to screw up,” said Mulroney.
“You’re given the chair for a day and so now I’ve got that tape, I can show it to my kids. And whoever sits in that chair is going to be (there) because Michael Gelman and Kelly felt they were the best for it and the right person for the show.”
“There’s nothing else you can do, except try to have done the best job you can. And I think I did.”