CNN eyes replacement as Larry King ends run

By Frazier Moore

AP Television Writer


Early last June, CNN celebrated 25 years of “Larry King Live” with a week of shows whose A-list guests included President Barack Obama, LeBron James, Bill Gates and Lady Gaga.

It was hyped to the hilt and suitably eventful, even as King and Lady Gaga regarded each other with the bemusement of a human encountering an alien life form.

Then, at the end of June, King suddenly announced he was retiring from his show — a weeknight fixture at 9 p.m. since June 1, 1985. He told viewers, “It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.”

After tonight’s edition, King will indeed hang it up, suspenders and all.

The lineup for this farewell hour should be stellar, though no names have been announced. The mood should be spirited and flowing with emotion.

But until now, it’s been an oddly subdued leave-taking. The promotion machine at a network can make noise over most anything. Or try. CNN isn’t bothering. Having paid King his tribute last June, before he even said he would be stepping down, CNN now is treating him as a lame-duck star, a chapter the network is rushing to move past.

The focus is on Piers Morgan, whom CNN named as the new guy in September. It is busily promoting his January debut. Morgan, a 45-year-old British journalist and TV personality known mainly in the U.S. as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” promises that “Piers Morgan Tonight” will be “exciting and slightly dangerous.” He is the future — or so CNN hopes.

King, who has never been exciting or dangerous (nor tried to be), is clearly seen by CNN as yesterday’s news.

It would be easy to argue that the 77-year-old waited too long to hang up those suspenders.

Once the leader in cable TV news, he now ranks third in his time slot behind Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.