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Piers Morgan Talking To Jonathan Wald To Executive Produce New CNN Talk Show

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. Read More »

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CNN’s Piers Morgan Vows Format And Other Changes To Beat Fox News Competition: Promises “I’m Going To Be There To Win” And “It’s Time To Kick Some Ratings Butt”

EXCLUSIVE: Piers Morgan tells us that he’s planning big changes to the Larry King Live interview slot he inherits in January. “The format, everything, will change. I’m not just going to be another man sitting in the CNN studio wearing red braces.” Morgan also promises he’ll beat his Fox News rivals (see below) — but not if he expects to do that with overexposed guests like Simon Cowell and Donald Trump or what he says is his top “get”, President Obama. The production team needs to be finalised before guests are signed, he says. Morgan tells us he hasn’t locked down his show’s executive producer yet, “though we are about to. What I would say is that there will be significant format changes, and the show will look and feel different and distinctive to Larry’s. I don’t want to copy him because he’s a legend. You don’t follow Sinatra at the Sands and try and warble My Way…”

The show will be mostly filmed in New York apart from 3 months in the summer when Morgan is in Los Angeles judging America’s Got Talent. He notes,One key change will definitely be that I will pre-tape many of the interviews so I can market and promote them in advance of them airing, which I believe will increase ratings. I’ve done this very successfully with my Life Stories series in the UK, with subjects as diverse as Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Simon Cowell, and Richard Branson.”

Morgan also tells us his mission is to help boost CNN’s sagging primetime line-up against Fox News, MSNBC, and other rivals. Larry King Live scored its lowest monthly viewer total in nearly 20 years in May, averaging just 653,000 viewers each night. And, last week, CNN underwent a management shakeup. CNN overall is a ratings mess right now and getting its clock cleaned by Fox News. So the older cable news channel brought in the guy who talent-scouted Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, and Joy Behar to fix it, HLN’s Ken Jautz. The TV world has changed since Larry King first began interviewing 25 years ago, says Morgan, noting that back then there wasn’t any Fox News or even MSNBC. Since then, there’s been an explosion in cable TV with rapid-fire hosts like Glenn Beck who don’t do long interviews with newsmakers. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re great at what they do,” says Morgan. “But I think there’s a gap in the market. For years, Larry King has shown the power of the extended interview, which is something I’ve specialised in with my British talk shows. When it comes to my rivals, however long it takes, I’m going to be there to win.” Morgan says, “The main message I want to communicate is that I intend this show to be a game-changer in terms of how interview shows are conducted on American TV. And I haven’t joined CNN to come 2nd, 3rd, or 4th.

America’s Got Talent has been the No. 1 show for five years, Britain’s Got Talent has been No. 1 in the UK for four years, Life Stories is the No. 1 talk show in the UK, and I won Celebrity Apprentice. Losing is not really something I’ve either experienced on TV, or wish to experience. A character trait hardened by my time working for the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Simon Cowell. It will take time, but we’ll get there.” Read More »

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How CNN Botched Larry King’s Exit From His Talk Show & Search For His Successor

Nellie Andreeva

CNN-logoFor 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 larry-kingnot 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 piers morganannouncement 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 … Read More »

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SURPRISE! CNN Talking To Joy Behar About Replacing Larry King

TV Behar HLN ShowA day after Larry King officially announced he will leave his CNN primetime talk show after 25 years, we hear the cable news network is in talks with Joy Behar to replace him. Behar has been one of the strongest internal candidates to succeed King. Her The Joy Behar Show on HLN (formerly known as CNN Headlline News and CNN2) has been the brightest spot on CNN’s mostly grim ratings report. It had the most growth of any primetime CNN show in Q2 among total viewers, up +39%. For comparison, CNN top anchor Anderson Cooper’s ratings were down -30%, King’s down -37%. Behar was also a regular fill-in for King on his show, a stint that led to her getting her own show on HLN.

A deal with Behar would go against King’s wishes. On his show last night, the veteran interviewer reiterated his support for Seacrest as his successor. “He’s curious, he’s interesting, he’s likable,” King said of the American Idol host. “If he has a great interest in politics, I would recommend him. But I’m sure there’s a ton of people who could do it. Come on, it’s Q&A.” Among those people is America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan who, according to British papers, had been in talks for King’s job. CBS Evening News host Katie Couric’s name also has been part of the mix, with conflicting reports on whether she is interested or not. … Read More »

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So Who’ll Succeed Larry King On CNN?

Nellie Andreeva

What a sad day for Larry King. First, the Q2 cable ratings were released in the early afternoon, with CNN posting another double-digit year-to-year drop led by Larry King Live, which drew a mere 677,000 viewers and posted CNN’s biggest year-to-year demo loss of -37%. A couple of hours later, King announced that he will leave his nightly talk show in the fall after 25 years. (Larry King Stepping Down From CNN Talk) Year-to-date, King’s viewership is down -43%. On any network, such huge ratings declines would warrant a cancellation. But Larry King Live continued to be CNN’s top-rated program.

If Larry King had his way, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest would succeed him. “He’s curious, he’s interesting, he’s likable,” King told guest Bill Maher tonight. “If he has a great interest in politics, I would recommend him. But I’m sure there’s a ton of people who could do it. Come on, it’s Q&A.” Still, it’s very telling that two reality stars, Seacrest and America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan (who was tipped by the British press two weeks ago as King’s replacement), are in the running for the most prestigious show on a network dedicated to news and politics. CBS Evening News host Katie Couric’s name also has been part of the mix, with conflicting reports on whether she is interested or not. Her contract with CBS is up next year. Inside CNN, the two obvious candidates are Joy Behar, whose talk … Read More »

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