Piers Morgan is making good on his promise to Deadline that he was “about to” lock down his new CNN show’s Executive Producer. I’ve confirmed that hard news veteran Jonathan Wald, the former CNBC topper who left last year after taking the business channel to new ratings highs, is in negotiations with Morgan and the new CNN head Ken Jautz to lead the news channel’s replacement show for Larry King Live. (Broadcasting & Cable reported this first today.) Trust me, he won’t come cheap. But it’s hard for me to imagine that, given all his experience, Wald would be content running just one show when he’s been in charge of entire programming schedules. I can’t help but wonder if this is a way in for Wald at CNN which certainly could use his proven ability to get cable news ratings and keep them.
British talk show hosts seem to be hot commodity for cable news networks these days. As CNN is reportedly pursuing Piers Morgan to replace Larry King, MSNBC has lured Nightline co-anchor Martin Bashir to anchor his own daily afternoon show and a contribute to NBC’s primetime newsmagazine Dateline NBC. Bashir, who rose to fame in the US with his 2003 documentary Living with Michael Jackson, will make the network switch in September. Bashir became a regular on US television when he joined ABC’s newsmagazine 20/20 in 2004. He became a Nightline co-anchor a year later. On Nightline, he will be replaced by Bill Weir, co-anchor of the weekend edition of Good Morning America.
For someone who has been the face of the network for the past 25 years, you’d think CNN would have handled the departure of veteran Larry King with a little bit more dignity and respect. But a series of CNN blunders have surrounded both King’s exit from his talk show and the search for his successor. First, the network started feeling out potential replacements long before King announced on June 29th that he would be leaving the show in November. In theory, that’s not a bad idea — Larry King Live had been the cornerstone of CNN’s primetime lineup, and management had to secure a strong successor in the 9 PM slot before it let King step down. But it was also a very risky strategy as proven by the June 12th leaks in UK papers that America’ Got Talent judge Piers Morgan, a Brit, was finalizing a deal to replace King. It was a blow to Larry, who had just celebrated his 25th anniversary at CNN and deserved a proper send-off.
But there was more humiliation in store for the veteran talk-show host. Instead of organizing the announcement of King’s exit in the two weeks following the first wave of Piers Morgan/CNN stories, the network waited until June 29th, the day the Q2 ratings come out. CNN knew they wouldn’t be pretty: King already …