As Regis Philbin’s last “LIVE!” show approaches after 28 stellar years in the television industry, big-time news reporters are competing for the ever-coveted exit interview – but 11-year-old Grant Saunders of Weehawken’s Kid Witness News is sitting pretty.
On Oct. 19, Grant, along with 11-year-old Kid Witness News co-anchor Eleanore Woodruff and 13-year-old cameraman Jerry Tejada, left their homes at 6:45 a.m. and headed off to ABC Studios in New York City, driven by Grant’s mother Diane D’Agostino and accompanied by Weehawken High School teacher Jon Hammer.
D’Agostino just happens to be Philbin’s Emmy-award-winning hairstylist (who also worked for Kathie Lee Gifford, Kelly Ripa and Maury Povich), and Grant has known Philbin essentially since he was born. He often accompanied his mother to work.
“We’d just hang out, me and him,” Grant said of Philbin, and it was through this interaction that Grant decided he wanted to be in journalism. He shot for the moon when he joined Kid Witness News and set his sights on the famous talk-show host for one of his very first interviews.
“Lunch with Grant, I’m telling you, is really something out of this world.” – Regis Philbin
Live with Regis and Kid Witness News
When the Weehakwen team arrived at ABC, they were invited onto the set of “LIVE! With Regis and Kelly” before the show was taped.
The kids were “psyched” to see that the crew had broadcast the Kid Witness News logo on their many large-screen studio televisions as a special tribute in honor of their visit.
“This place is fabulous!” Eleanore exclaimed as she and her classmates filmed the show’s set-up. They met comedian Carrot Top and actor Kelsey Grammer, who were Philbin’s guests that day. Then they were invited to be a part of the show’s studio audience.
After the show was broadcast, Kid Witness proceeded backstage for an exclusive interview with Philbin in his private office.
Grant and Regis
Grant: You’ve been a big part of my life.
Regis: Well, you’ve been a big part of my life, too. We’re old friends and we’ve had lunch and things together over the years, and I’m so happy that you’re doing what I do!
G: You’ve mastered daytime; you’ve conquered prime time. What’s next?
R: I wish I knew at this point. I’m just trying to wrap up 28 years here. I’m going to take some time off and then maybe I’ll make a decision.
G: You’ve interviewed many people over the years. Is there any one person in particular you wanted to interview before you left?
R: Well, you look at that wall over there and you see over the years that there are so many interesting people. Many of them have passed on now. Well, David Letterman was a great interview.
G: Do you have any advice for kids who want to do what you do?
R: I’m so impressed with what you’re doing. Eleven years old. When I was 11 all I could do was dream about maybe one day being on the radio, you know? But I never had the opportunity to do anything like this. As a matter of fact, Grant, in high school a program like this wasn’t available…I just couldn’t get over not only my shyness, but my doubts about any ability that I might have in this business, and so I didn’t pursue it [in college]. But I’m happy to see that people like you, at 11 years of age, are conducting interviews, and a good interview at that!
G: Again, thank you for having us here today. Maybe some day we can have lunch again.
R: Absolutely! Lunch with Grant, I’m telling you, is really something out of this world. We sit there and talk about the old days. Thanks, Grant.
The interview was aired in the Weehawken schools, as well as on Cablevision’s channel 19 in October.
Grant hopes to continue with Kid Witness News and become a professional journalist one day. He’s got a pretty tough act to follow — fortunately, it’s his own.