The Armageddon that is “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and Regis Philbin has reached its pinnacle. You can play along with the game in your living room. You can get the board game version. You can play it on your computer. And now, for a mere $77.50, you can dress like Regis. Yes, just in time for Father’s Day, the King of Primetime has launched Regis by the Van Heusen Company line of monochrome cotton shirts and matching silk ties. (The indefatigable host was on hand at Macy’s flagship store in New York Monday to promote the outfits. Right now, the Big Apple store is the only place you can find the goods.)
The bigwigs are talking: “We are thrilled to enter into this monumental licensing agreement with Regis Philbin,” reads the credo from Van Heusen honcho Mark Weber. “Regis is one of America’s best known on-air personalities and possesses the qualities to make this trend-setting deal.”
The masses are talking: “The shirts look beautiful and Regis is fun. He’s cute,” an adoring fan gushed to Associated Press at the line launch.
And even the big guy himself it talking: “It brings back memories,” he told the press as he perused the Regis-themed storefront windows on Monday.
So we decided to hit the streets and see what the hubbub was about. Here’s our blow-by-blow account of going shopping for Regis:
As we exit the subway, across from Macy’s, we’re greeted by larger-than-normal crowds and an unusual neon light reading “Regis” emanating from the store’s windows. Upon closer inspection, we discover a giant pictorial chronicling the life of Regis Philbin (from his school days at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx to his top-rated days on the ABC game show). In front of each said pictorial is a suited mannequin wearing a smiling Regis mask. The window reads: “Who’s the best-dressed game show host? A. Regis Philbin B. Regis Philbin C. Regis Philbin D. Regis Philbin.” Clever.
We conduct a quick man-on-the-street interview with passers-by: Attractive business-type says he would wear the duds. “I Love New York” T-shirted tourists ask us to take a photo of them in front of the windows. Homeless man says his daily take is up since the windows opened.
We follow the neon light inside the store and head to the lady at the information desk. Yes, lots of people are coming in and asking about the line, she confirms and points us to the men’s store. We navigate our way through the throngs of slow-walking tourist, deflect attacks from perfume-wielding sales people and see a stack of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” games on a faraway table. We must be getting close.
We look up and follow even more neon Regis signs to the men’s department. (Note to self: Neon sighs didn’t look good in 1986, nor do they look good today.) A salesman approaches and guides us to the shrine of Regis. Six-foot stacks of sassy black boxes stocked with shirt-and-tie combos are being vigilantly attacked by Father’s Day-seeking wives, daughters and significant others. A 70-something dowager gives us a dirty look when we pick up a box from the pile she’s digging through.
Here’s the scoop from the sales guy: The cotton shirts and silk ties are packaged together and make fabulous Dad’s Day gifts. They’ve been flying off the shelves since the line was launched. Macy’s was more of a zoo than normal when Reeg visited. And, no, the combo pack ain’t going on sale any time soon.
As we turn to leave (and realize the entire men’s department is full of Regis wear lookalikes for significantly less than $77.50), the sales guy poses one final question: How many boxes would you like?