It was neither a greeting to family and friends nor an expression of relief that the surgery was over.
Instead, the talk-show host expressed disgust about a new program, "National Bingo Night," that the ABC network is premiering in May. Opening his eyes after surgery, Regis muttered, "Ban TV Bingo," then quickly shut his eyes and went back to sleep.
Friends confirm that Regis, before his surgery, had gone ballistic when he heard about the six-episode ABC show, "National Bingo Night," starting Friday, May 18, hosted by Ed Sanders, who has achieved fame on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Fear Factor U.K.," and other TV shows. Regis thinks that Bingo is a game that belongs to senior citizens and should be played only in places like church halls and senior citizen centers.
According to Philbin, "It's bad enough that Bingo's been hijacked by casinos. And now this?" He believes the TV version is geared to a young audience and has commented, "It's an outrage. Let the young people find their own game show and leave their greedy hands off what clearly belongs to an older generation." He's concerned that, with Bingo on TV, there will be fewer venues available where seniors can play in real life.
With his stand against TV Bingo, Philbin, 75, a favorite of people of all ages, has now especially endeared himself to the older set. The 101-year-old New York woman who achieved instant fame when the video of her recent mugging was beamed around the world said, "We oldies are so lucky to have a wonderful young man like him looking out for us. I wish him a speedy recovery. If that nice Kelly Ripa doesn't give him the sponge bath she promised, I'm going right over to the hospital and give it to him myself."