Long Live the New King

Piers Morgan with Sarah Brown (wife of former UK PM Gordon Brown) and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Bank

WHC Insider’s Tammy Haddad for the Huffington Post:

Dear Piers,

Don’t listen to the critics. If Larry King had given a thought to the naysayers back in 1985, he would have returned to radio after the first week. When we launched the show 25 years ago, no one liked the idea of an hour-long interview program.

Ted Turner figured out the advantage of television for long-form interviews. I remember the night Ted was our guest on the Larry King Radio Show, broadcast from the bowels of Mutual Radio headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia.

It was such a thrill to finally score the bigger-than-life media mogul and winner of America’s Cup. At the time, Larry King was an established radio host, but Turner saw the primetime potential.

The producers’ biggest fear switching to TV? How to go from three-hour interviews (one hour interview, two hours questions from listeners) to just one. Imagine that concept now? Good interviews don’t happen by accident, but are a complicated dance between interviewer and subject. The best interviews are ones where the audience doesn’t see the individual dance steps, but a sweeping verbal theater. You are the lead, the director and choreographer. You get people talking from their head and their heart.

People don’t just want to hear what their favorite stars have to say; they want to watch them squirm, fidget, freeze… and yes, sometimes cry. In your first week, you have shown your star guests to be real and relatable, abrupt and self satisfied, and sometimes fragile. I learned something about each one.

Ignore the critics who are stuck on the fact that you’re taping the interviews. The additional research, the ability to pluck out the most interesting bits, to weave together the complete package, is invaluable. You’re right to put your viewer’s interests first.

And for those that think the interviews should be shorter: Ross Perot didn’t announce he was running for president on Larry King Live until about 35 minutes into the show — and he changed an election.

Piers, thanks for crossing “the pond” to get some really big stars and headline newsmakers back on TV with all their foibles and follies. We are watching, tweeting and laughing along with you and the critics.

Tammy Haddad is President of Haddad Media and was one of the creators and executive producer of Larry King Live, and MSNBC’s former Washington VP.

CNN's Prime-Time Lineup

CNN has announced new details about its prime-time lineup. No surprise, but it’s official: Piers Morgan is taking over the “Larry King Live” time slot in January. The British TV host, known on this side of the pond as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” will be based in New York.

Morgan’s new boss, CNN-US President Jon Klein, quoted on CNN.com: “Piers has made his name posing tough questions to public figures, holding them accountable for their words and deeds…He is able to look at all aspects of the news with style and humor with an occasional good laugh in the process.”

The show will air live on CNN-US at 9 p.m. ET and in more than 200 countries worldwide on CNN-International. While Morgan’s show has yet to be named, CNN revealed what the new 8 o’clock hour will be called: Parker Spitzer.

That would be Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. The show will premiere Monday, October 4. Check out the video announcement:

Piers Morgan Takes King's Throne

[picappgallerysingle id=”4991269″]Long live the king of CNN’s prime-time block: Piers Morgan.

The rumored hopeful was confirmed as headed to the cable news network according to The Wrap.  Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal TV, confirmed the former host of America’s Got Talent joining the network during a press tour earlier today.

The rest of the details aren’t publicly available yet;  Gaspin gave a brief answer to Morgan having  dual duty at NBC and CNN (“Yes,” Gaspin  said.)

[Read more…]

Fingers Crossed for This Week and This Fall on TV

[picappgallerysingle id=”4987232″ align=”center”]The Beltway’s TV presence is going wider–if not global–in the coming weeks

TVNewser confirms August 1st as the start date for Christiane Amanpour’s premiere at This Week, which sadly ousts Jake Tapper from the temporary position. Meanwhile, Rick Sanchez is being bumped up to 8 pm on July 22nd until the Fall premiere of the Untitled Eliot Spitzer/Kathleen Parker Show.

[Read more…]

Larry King: "Hanging Up the Nightly Suspenders"

Larry King announced on Tuesday that he will step away from his CNN chair in the fall after a remarkable 25 years on the air, earning the Guinness Book of World Records title for the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot on the same network.

“It’s time to hang up the nightly suspenders,” he told viewers, confirming what his Twitter followers learned just before showtime. As the host of the first-ever worldwide phone-in TV talk show, the breaking news reached the realm of new media as “Larry King” quickly became a trend in the social web.

While King, 76, will no longer be hosting his nightly program Larry King Live, he has signed a contract with CNN to do specials for the cable network. King hopes the new schedule will allow “more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ Little League games.”

There will be plenty of time to head down memory lane; it’s estimated King has done about 50,000 interviews. Tammy Haddad, Larry King Live Executive Producer from 1985-1993, told NBC’s Today Show that King’s secret to success was that “people would get so comforable with him they would say things they didn’t plan on saying…he engaged them at such a level.”

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The months ahead are also sure to be full of speculation over who will fill King’s seat. Rumors hint at British talk show host Piers Morgan, but King disclosed on Tuesday’s broadcast that American Idol host Ryan Seacrest would be his choice.