- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2001

PASADENA, Calif. Kathie Lee Gifford is back, and she is cracking jokes about her own image.

At a news conference for her new E cable channel movie "Spinning Out of Control" (9 p.m. March 1), Miss Gifford says she had dinner with Regis Philbin recently for the first time since leaving "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" in the summer. A reporter asked if Mr. Philbin picked up the check, since he's presumably making more money with both his talk show and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

"How do you know that?" Miss Gifford shot back. "My sweatshops do really well."

Miss Gifford says she and Mr. Philbin have talked on numerous occasions since she left "Live" and called their pairing "the best professional partnership I could have ever had." She is not so fond of the show's executive producer, Michael Gelman ("He and I were never good friends," she says. "I don't think that was any secret."), and gave only a short answer when asked about the show's ratings increase since her departure: "It obviously was the best thing for both of us."

She does not dwell on the past and she does not have regrets about leaving "Live."

"I thought at least I'd have moments where I missed it, and they may come someday, but I haven't yet," Miss Gifford says. "I'm so busy doing what I love doing."

What she has been doing is making "Spinning Out of Control," a film about a sitcom actress with an apple pie image who actually is a drug-taking control freak.

"We were shooting in Canada and it was 4 in the morning and we'd been working 14 hour days and I'm standing outside in a nightgown and slippers and I said, 'I left the cushiest job in show business for this? Why am I so happy?' " Miss Gifford says.

"I'm just doing what I love to do. [Her character] doesn't care what anybody thinks. She is totally and completely self-absorbed and I loved playing her," she says. "It was such great fun. I was just sorry when it was over. I hope there's a sequel."

The film also stars Howie Mandel, a friend of Miss Gifford's. He says people are jealous of Miss Gifford and that is why she has become a polarizing figure.

"It's because she's a good person," Mr. Mandel says. "America will forgive a rapist, somebody who kills somebody, but they won't forgive somebody for being successful. I think people have a problem with that."

Miss Gifford says there is little she can do to combat tabloid reports about her life.

"I don't want to spend my life suing every time I turn around," she says. "You have to live in your own truth. I know 99 percent of what they write is garbage. It could be me or anybody on the cover."

She had this advice for whoever eventually succeeds her on "Live": "Learn how to duck with grace."

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

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