NEW YORK - Most mornings on

Live,

Regis Philbin and his cohost, Kelly Ripa, have something to say about the weather outside.

That kind of talk gives the show immediacy. And establishes Regis as the center of the universe, at least for an hour, from the Upper West Side Manhattan studio.

Regis Philbin is masterful at framing a particular vision of New York, then setting the scene for his audience.

It's the good life: During one recent off-the-cuff "host chat," he shared details of a night out with wife Joy at a super-exclusive Greenwich Village bistro to which most viewers could never gain entry.

His is also a life full of sundry frustrations, with which any of his viewers can identify. By way of paying homage to the Oreo cookie, Regis will sound off about newfangled Oreos made in different colors and flavors.

Changing gears

One moment, the world is his oyster. The next, he's the little guy against the world.

This is Regis Philbin, 76, with 20 years flourishing on

Live

.

That's not all. Last Sunday, he began a six-week stint hosting

Million Dollar Password

on Sunday nights on CBS, which returns him to the quiz-show genre he knocked for a loop with

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

a decade ago.

And as he approaches a half-century on TV, he will get the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards broadcast June 20.

With each TV appearance, he adds to his record for most hours logged on the tube (15,662, as certified by Guinness World Records in 2006).

"EV-ry DAY, you see the RECord SHATtered, pal!" says Philbin, his rhythmic rant in full gear. "One more hour!"

It's shortly after 10 a.m., and, with one more edition of

Live

now history, he's upstairs in his curio-jammed office.

The daily demands

"Even I have a little trepidation," he acknowledges when asked how he does a show every day. "You wake up in the morning and you say, 'What did I do last night that I can talk about? What's new in the paper? How are we gonna fill that 20 minutes?'

"I'm not gonna say it always works out brilliantly, but somehow we connect more often than we don't."

His 21/2 years as Joey Bishop's second banana on Bishop's late-night ABC talk show were part of an uncertain, often rocky road in the 1960s and 1970s. Philbin was based on the West Coast and mostly appearing on local TV.

Then he returned to New York, where, by chance, he landed a local morning show in 1983. The ratings grew. Two years later, Kathie Lee Johnson joined him as cohost.

In 1988, he and Kathie Lee (by then married to sportscaster Frank Gifford) went national. Ripa replaced Gifford in 2001.

Now one of TV's most enduring hits,

Live With Regis and Kelly

airs in more th an 200 markets across the country, averaging four million viewers each day.

Regis has a couple more years on his contract to do

Live

. After that?

"I guess there's gonna have to be a sign somewhere along the way telling me enough's enough," he muses. "But right now, I'm still enjoying it. Right now, I'm very happy."