Who should replace Larry King at CNN?
Media writers have been fitting Larry King for a retirement watch for years now, pointing out his dizzying ratings losses and embarrassing on air gaffes with regularity. It has been a while since he was the linchpin of CNN's prime time lineup in ratings, but he has always been that odd-shaped puzzle piece -- a component that somehow worked in a way no one really understood, until it didn't.
Now CNN is finally moving to replace King, insisting he is choosing his own time to leave the show he has hosted for 25 years (which should make you more suspicious than ever about who really decided it was time for him to go). But as the cable channel fetes its faded, departing star, there is a question now on everyone's lips in earnest and in the open.
Who the heck can take over this job now?
If you believe the gossip sheets, CBS anchor Katie Couric has already turned down the gig and America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan has been in talks (does CNN really have the stones to hire Eliot Spitzer and Piers Morgan in the same month?). As hardworking as American Idol host Ryan Seacrest is, I can't imagine him taking over the program while he's committed to Idol, though he was one of the subjects of the strongest rumors to replace King years ago.
Here's some names -- serious and not -- I would love to see. Who's on your list?
Howard Stern -- would never be boring, and at least he can remember guests names.
Oprah Winfrey -- isn't she leaving her current gig next year sometime, anyway?
Matt Lauer -- Say what you will about Mr. Today show, one of the best interviewers regularly working on TV.
Click below to read the press release from CNN:
TO: CNN Colleagues
FR: Jon Klein
Larry King has asked that I share with you a message to his audience that will be broadcast tonight at the top of his show. After 25 years, Larry has decided to take a step back from the nightly grind. He wants to take some time for himself and his family. So he will end his run with Larry King Live on his own terms, sometime this fall.
He is not leaving CNN. Larry is a beloved member of the CNN family and he will continue to contribute to our air with periodic specials.
Larry has been a giant in the industry for as long as most of us can remember. Anyone who ever mattered has sat for an interview on Larry's iconic set. They all know the man it is our privilege to call our colleague and friend--tireless and curious, respectful and inquisitive, caring, generous, influential, a citizen of the world.
We will celebrate his tenure in proper fashion over the coming months. Today is about Larry and about the beginning of a new chapter. It is not about good-bye.
Larry's message below aired at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Larry King Live.
Larry King Statement:
Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you. Twenty five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games. I’ll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects.
I’m incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I’m looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.
Just as CNN redefined the news business, Larry King defined the art of the television interview. His candor, curiosity and compassion are legendary, and his ability to interview people from all walks of life—world leaders, celebrities and everyday people—has made him an icon. Having conducted nearly 50,000 interviews over 50-plus years in broadcasting, Larry deserves to take some time for himself and his family. After 25 years at CNN, he will conclude Larry King Live on his own terms, sometime this fall. We are proud and grateful that Larry will continue the next chapter of his storied career at CNN and will host several specials over the coming years.
Today is about Larry. We will announce plans for the 9pm hour in the weeks ahead.