Regis Philbin is the star of a new Super Bowl commercial, but to hear the TV legend tell it, he might as well be the star of the game itself.
"After a while you feel like the game won't go on unless Regis has a Pepsi-Cola spot!" Regis joked in an interview with The Huffington Post. The new ad is indeed for Pepsi Max, the brand's zero calorie version. It's also Philbin's second Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi -- hence his line about his ubiquity in the big game.
In the current spot, Philbin helps torment a Coke Zero salesman who furtively tries to buy a bottle of Pepsi Max in a store. Instead of slipping away with his contraband, the guy winds up winning free Pepsi Max for life and being feted by Philbin, who says, "I'm back! And you're my first guest."
Philbin said that taking the gig was a no-brainer. "If you got the call, you know you'd be pushing me out of the plane and getting on the plane yourself!" he pointed out. (For the record, we'd never do that to Reege.)
He went out to California and shot the ad in a store that Pepsi had rented out. Philbin said he passed the time partially by ribbing the commercial's director, Joe Pytka, who he goes a long way back with and describes as "a big, tall Polish guy with white hair coming down." Every so often, he said, he'd yell out "my name Pytka!"
Of course, making commercials is nothing new for the man who has done everything under the television sun. Philbin's first one came way back in 1958, when he was filling in as a sports reporter on a San Diego station and was asked to do a Chrysler commercial. "I'll never forget how proud I was to get it," he said.
And what's next? Philbin said he's taking offers, relaxing and seeing what comes up. One thing he's pretty sure he's going to do: appear on the sitcom "Hot In Cleveland."
"My agent said to me he has some interest," he said. "I assume it's going to be with that gal that everybody loves, Betty White. I don't know what my role is going to be but I think I'm going to do it."
Philbin also wanted to stress his Super Bowl prediction: the New York Giants win by 17.
"It's gonna not be a great game!" he said. But that's why we watch the commercials, right?
"Yeah, that's where Regis comes in!"
All the Super Bowl commercials from 2011: