Let the handicapping really begin.
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. 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.
Howard Stern: He'd 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. He's one of the best interviewers regularly working on TV.