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Larry King announces he is ending his prime-time CNN show [Updated]

Larry king
Larry King, whose nightly CNN talk show was long a required stomping ground for striving politicians and contrite celebrities, announced Tuesday that he is going to step down from the program in the fall.

The 76-year-old will not be leaving CNN altogether: He signed a new contract to host quarterly specials on the cable news channel.

But his departure from prime time marks a major turning point for CNN, which has built its schedule around "Larry King Live" for 25 of the network’s 30 years on the air. This year, however, the program has seen a sharp fall-off in audience. An average of 677,000 viewers tuned in during the second quarter of 2010, down 37% from the same period last year, according to Nielsen.

In a nod to how much the medium has changed since King began broadcasting in 1957, he broke the news himself on Twitter, writing:  “Announcing tonight: I’m ending my nightly show this fall but continuing at CNN. http://bit.ly/9hBv9.” 

King has long called himself an interviewer, not a journalist, logging more than 40,000 sit-downs with newsmakers since he began broadcasting in 1957, according to CNN.

It remains unclear who will replace him. CNN has not confirmed recent reports that it is in talks with Piers Morgan, a British journalist who judges NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” CBS anchor Katie Couric’s name has been frequently floated as a possible successor, and King himself has volunteered that he thinks “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest would be a worthy contender.

The end of King’s nightly show comes as CNN is working to refashion its low-rated prime-time schedule. Last week, the network announced a new roundtable show hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker will debut in the 8 p.m. ET time slot this fall, replacing the newscast anchored Campbell Brown. The hiring of Spitzer, who resigned from office after revelations that he solicited prostitutes, disappointed many CNN employees and drew external criticism that the network was abandoning its news mission.

King explained in a CNN.com statement, which he linked on his Twitter page, that he asked his network to let him "hang up his suspenders."

"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."

In an e-mail to employees, CNN President Jon Klein wrote: "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.

-- Matea Gold


[Updated 4:28 pm. This post has been updated with a direct statement from King.]

[Updated 4:48 p.m. This post has been updated with comments from an e-mail CNN President Jon Klein wrote to employees.]

Photo: Larry King speaks during "Larry King Live: Disaster in the Gulf Telethon," held at CNN LA on June 21, 2010, in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for CNN

Comments () | Archives (17)

What happened to the food?

Good riddance. There's too much softball journalism out there. Larry King doesn't ask hard questions.

CNN, like the LATIMES and many other outlets of old media, are going the way of the dinosaur.

You will pay for your covertly, and sometimes, overtly, biased dirt that you like to label 'news'.

You shall pay, with your job.

He was great on the radio and the TV show moved too far away from actually having a conversation. It was how many guests can you cram into seven minutes in the name of getting a younger demo. Didn't work. It never has.

I'm not sure anyone can really replace Larry King as an interviewer. His age, experience and personality take the snakes off guard on camera, and he brings out the best in the best people. Other interviewers play it safe, are predictable and complacent. I hope CNN chooses someone who is not dull minded or under 50. What a charmed life to speak to so many current and newsworthy people.

Good riddance. His show has become garbage just to get ratings. I didn't like it when he interviewed the family of Richard Allen Davis, the creep who murdered Polly Klass. The killer's family backed up Davis' slanderous and defamatory assertion that Polly's father sexually abused her. I also didn't like it when he interviewed a relative of that Brazilian family that abducted a New Jersey's father's son in which he also made slanderous and defamatory comments about the father. It seems King always liked to give a voice to despicable people to air falsehoods and garbage about people they don't like. I wish he would just leave the network altogether.

It's way past time. Larry is rather much an embarrassment, asking the most foolish questions and tossing nothing but softballs. In a word, he sucks. Take your millions and go home Larry!

Mr. Big Head is going finally.

For me, it is a pity that Reb King was never able to interview Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham v'Rachel Riva, AKA 'Bob Dylan'...from 1965-1967, he revolutionized Jewish kabbalistic poetics and ontology...then lost control of his be-ing, using and lying to many (what he did to Joan Baez in 1965 is reprehensible), betraying his people and family (his mother never recovered from his 1979 crucifictionist apostasy, and he savaged the loyalty of Sara his first wife, and others to follow)...burned out spiritually for years and unable to create without others...now a lonely man living out of a bus...I really think that, of all people, it would have been Larry King who could have cornered Dylan into apologizing to all of us who, in 1965 at Newport, embraced his artistic choices, not realising it was greed not vision that motivated him...the ghost of electricity still howls in the bones of Dylan's face as, on his Never Ending Tour, he masks betrayals with posturing...records innocuous 'christmas' songs...
STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham

Larry will be missed very badly I feel

Seriously, this should've happened 4-5 years ago.

Given that time slot and format, King was not as good as he c
Larry King----OVER RATED. Considering the time slot and format, wow, you could have some fantastic interviews, but it never happened w/ LK.

TO STEPHAN PICKERING: What the hell are you talking about?

Larry King is awesome. I knew he wouldnt stay on the show forever. Will miss his show.

Larry King was one of the worst...I am glad he is honest, he never was anything of a journalist.

Of course, CNN has completely lost its way. It no longer has anything much to do with news...not any more than National Enquirer. Some producer at CNN thinks it is cinema verite...everyone up and walking around with a clipboard, knowing nothing, and pretending to be engaged. Tripe.

They also repeat to death the same story topic each day ad naseum.

CNN needs to replace at least part of its programming with....NEWS.

May Mr. King have a very happy retirement.

To Norman Mailman: you should refrain from using White Out on your computer screen.


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