By Doug Gallant
P.E.I. Tourism Minister Robert Vessey says the exposure Prince Edward Island has received as the result of Live! With Regis and Kelly shooting four shows here is absolutely unbelievable.
“You cannot put a price on this kind of exposure,’’ Vessey said in an interview on July 13.
Speaking just hours after co-hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa had completed the last of their shows at Confederation Landing Park, the minister said the show has helped spread the word about P.E.I. and all it has to offer to millions of television viewers in the United States and in other parts of Canada.
“We’re very proud of Prince Edward Island and to see it showcased like this, so professionally, so beautifully, it’s wonderful.”
Vessey said the feedback the province has received has been overwhelming.
“Prince Edward Island was the second most popular search on Google Monday (June 12). We had to ramp up our own website to three times its capacity to keep up with the inquiries. People wanted to know all about us.”
He said the payback for the $800,000 the province invested to bring LIVE! with Regis and Kelly to P.E.I. could be enormous.
“Look at the attention it’s generated for us.”
Vessey noted newspapers, television and radio stations across North America have been carrying stories on the show shooting in P.E.I.
“The whole idea was to build brand awareness of P.E.I. Regis and Kelly have helped us do this in a very big way.”
Opposition Leader Jim Bagnall said there's no doubt that the show brought some short-term publicity to the province but in the long term it was a lot of money spent on the short term.
“That money could have been put into our health care instead of a three-day event,” he said in a telephone interview from Regina.
“I think our priorities when it comes to spending need to change.”
Vessey said he’s been speaking with a lot of people in the hospitality industry and in retail and they’re all very happy with the economic activity the show has created.
“They’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Restaurant operator Liam Dolan echoed the minister’s sentiments.
“This has been fantastic,” Dolan said. “The hype surrounding this show, the attention Regis and Kelly have generated in the media, we’ve never seen anything like it on the Island before.”
Dolan said he’s met a lot of people from the United States and from other parts of Canada who came here for this event, including several of the stars and the musicians, and they can’t believe how wonderful the province is.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of people come back here. People told me they had no idea what this place was like before now but they love it.”
More than 8,000 people flocked to Confederation Landing Park to see Philbin and Ripa shoot their last two shows in Charlottetown on Tuesday, July 13. The first of those shows was broadcast live, the second was recorded to tape for broadcast on Thursday, July 15.
Tuesday’s live broadcast kicked off, as Monday’s had, with glowing praise for the natural beauty of Prince Edward Island and the hospitality that Islanders have displayed towards everyone involved in the show.
Between celebrity interviews with the husband-and-wife team of Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, stars of the new TV Land reality series Harry Loves Lisa, and Canadian-born actress and comedian Caroline Rhea, co-hosts Philbin and Ripa came forward to chat with members of the audience and field questions, all of which they happily answered.
They were gracious and delightfully charming.
Everywhere they turned there were adoring fans holding up signs that said “Regis We Love You” or “Kelly you’re beautiful.”
Highlights of Tuesday’s show included Ripa’s debut as Kelly Anne of Green Gables. Dressed like L.M. Montgomery’s fabled orphan Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, she was shown making friends with Diana in Avonlea, running in the three-legged-race at the Sunday picnic and clocking Gilbert Blythe — played in this case by her real-life husband Mark Consuelos — with a slate.
The show also featured yet another attempt to convert Philbin into a seafood lover, this time with seafood delights from the Ship to Shore Restaurant in Darnley.
Chef Wesley Gallant offered Philbin, among other things, a fried oyster taco.
P.E.I.’s Grass Mountain Hobos got what had to be the opportunity of a lifetime when they served as the house band for Tuesday’s show. They served up snippets from a number of songs and got to watch Philbin promote their second album.
Band spokesman Josh Ellis said they were thrilled to have the opportunity to play this show.
“It’s a big break for us, the show reaches a huge audience.”
Other highlights of Tuesday’s show included an unexpected guest appearance by the Holland America cruise ship Maasdam, which saluted the show with several blasts from its horn, as if on cue.
Although Regis and Kelly have left the Island, the last show they taped will be broadcast Thursday, July 15 at 10 a.m. on the CTV network.
(From Transcontinental Media/The Guardian)