What happens when the downturn goes upmarket?
By Drew Taylor
It started out innocently enough.
On a late July day, Nathan Lane was on daytime talk show Live with Regis & Kelly. During the interview, Regis Philbin let it slip that he was selling his house in Greenwich. At that point Lane, a skilled comedian and actor and longtime Broadway performer (he was also the voice of meerkat Timon in The Lion King), went into a whole routine about how Regis doesn't actually want to live in Connecticut anymore. He even threw in a faux WASP accent to complete the stereotypical package. Regis squirmed.
And yes, I laughed
But then a sort of horror set in. Even though he had mentioned it on Live before, usually in the casual conversation with co-host Kelly Ripa that begins each show, Nathan Lane's joke somehow made it real. Regis Philbin was leaving Greenwich, and I was upset....
...So the prospect of a Regis-less Fairfield County was something I couldn't wrap my mind around. Was he "done with Greenwich" (to paraphrase a quote Martha Stewart delivered to the New York Times Magazine about Westport)? Did Greenwich no longer "work" for him, as Westport no longer "worked" for her?
...Last June, Bankrate.com asked Regis what the most "decadent thing" he's ever bought was. He named his home in Greenwich, formerly owned by CBS sportscaster Warner Wolf. "It's probably the most extravagant thing I ever did," he said.
Extravagant, but maybe not "decadent." According to Architectural Digest, which got in the front door in 2002, Wolf's former house is in "prime John Cheever country—dignified with faint Norman manorisms, including quoins, dormers and a ruddy brick façade. It's as unshowy as the neighboring piles are eye-popping." It does have a tennis court....
During the interview, Regis Philbin let it slip that he was selling his house in Greenwich. At that point Lane, a skilled comedian and actor and longtime ...
...So I went looking for myself.
The first place I went was Valbella!! (exclamation points theirs), an Italian restaurant in Old Greenwich that Regis frequents, according to online reports.
I introduced myself to a very nice, very Italian maître d' who said, "Oh, of course, Regis," almost immediately. When I asked him if he had said anything about where he was moving, he answered me in a more roundabout way.
"Well, I know he sold his house, but maybe he sold his house and bought a new one in the same place?"
Hmmm, mysterious, intriguing.
At that point, I asked for his name, and he became skittish. Then he referred me to his manager (a man named Tony), who was on the phone and too busy for my questions.
The hunt continued, and me stalking around downtown Greenwich didn't get me any more answers. The possibility began to form that maybe he was just moving within Greenwich, or .....
...She still wouldn't tell me. In fact, she tried to encourage me to "minimize" the story, if not cancel it altogether, although she did think it sounded "cute." She kept saying that the details of someone's move, in particular the buying and selling of a house, are an extremely personal matter. He does talk about this stuff on the show, though, to a daily audience of almost four million. It's where the idea for this article came from.
So, where he's moving is still a question mark, but at least he's staying in Connecticut. The only way to really tell if he's moved out of the area is to more finely attune yourself to the psychic wavelengths of the area. Sit very still and see if you can detect if the best tables are being given to nobodies, sensing if the swingin'-est 76-year-old in America is here or elsewhere.
That, or you could probably just watch the show, and see if he spills the beans, his voice raising again in agitated Bronx-bred excitement.
Please send your comments and Regis sightings to GreenwichRoundup@gmail.com