From the New York Times:
Piers Morgan a Step Closer to ‘Larry King’ Chair
By BRIAN STELTER AND BILL CARTER
Piers Morgan, the mean judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” is poised to take over Larry King’s coveted time slot on CNN, thanks to an imminent deal between the two media giants that own the channels.
NBC, which attracts 20 million viewers to “Got Talent” each summer, has signaled that it is willing to share Mr. Morgan with CNN. That decision frees Mr. Morgan to directly negotiate with CNN and, according to three people involved in the delicate maneuvering between the companies, a contract could be signed within a few days.
If completed, the deal would vault Mr. Morgan, a native of Britain, onto the Mount Rushmore of TV’s top interviewers, alongside Oprah, Barbara and Katie. It will also demonstrate that CNN thinks there is still room in primetime for long-form interviews with public servants and starlets, a stark contrast to the partisan pundits on its higher-rated competitors.
“Larry King Live” is the biggest vacancy on television this year and the prospect of “Piers Morgan Live” starring a foreign-born talent show judge has baffled many people inside CNN.
Mr. Morgan, 45, is actually an A-list interviewer in his native Britain, and he has essentially been rehearsing for CNN by hosting “Piers Morgan Life Stories,” a series of well-received and high-rated interviews with bigwigs like Gordon Brown and Simon Cowell, on the British network ITV.
A former creature of Fleet Street who edited The Daily Mirror for a decade, Mr. Morgan has all manner of critics, from the NBC viewers who dislike his mean-Brit shtick to the television critics who despise his chilling self-confidence. But as his close friend Simon Cowell has demonstrated on “American Idol,” being unliked can be a shortcut to fame and fortune.
“Almost every other U.K. TV import has been hugely successful,” remarked Tammy Haddad, a former producer of “Larry King Live” who now runs a media consulting company.
For CNN, Mr. Morgan’s judgeship on the talent show could be a promotional platform to attract desperately needed younger viewers –or it could be a source of awkwardness for a channel that calls itself “the most trusted name in news.”
The 9 p.m. hire is a critically important one for CNN as it tries to rebuild its low-rated prime time lineup. Last month it said it had hired Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker as the future co-hosts of an 8p.m. discussion show.
“The 9 p.m. hour is the linchpin of any success in cable news,” Ms. Haddad said. “As a cable channel, it tells viewers who you are and what you care about.”
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
From the New York Times: