Piers Morgan's Talk Show Aspirations

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Piers Morgan is the latest name to surface in who-will-replace-Larry-King rumor mill. CNN is denying that Morgan is a contender for King’s 9 p.m. slot….just like they have denied previous rumors involving Ryan Seacrest, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, etc…

“Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of people who would love to succeed Larry King if and when he moves on, but rumors that we are close to signing a deal for a Larry King replacement are untrue,” said a CNN spokesperson in a statement, adding “We are currently looking at replacing our 8 p.m. program and that is our priority. Larry is a beloved member of the team, and he will continue to be part of the CNN family into the future.”

King’s contract is up next spring. But CNN’s Campbell Brown already has one foot out the door. Brown, of course, is chucking the 8 p.m. hour after years of struggling to compete with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (the 8 p.m. cable news leader, by a long shot) and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. CNN executives have been casting for replacements and kicking around concepts. Several TV news personalities, including MSNBC’s David Shuster (in a head-scratching contract transgression) have auditioned.

Morgan has made no secret of his desire to host a primetime talk show. He has engaged in informal talks - or ear bending - with NBC.  

“I think there’s a gap in American television for that one-on-one, slightly edgy,” he told B&C in 2008. “Most talk shows you get seven minutes with a guest and they are plugging something.”

Nevertheless, Morgan is best known to U.S. audiences as a winner of Celebrity Apprentice and one of the current judges on NBC’s American Idol knock-off America’s Got Talent. He plays the Cowell-esque meanie, except his criticism is not at biting or as entertaining. For CNN, Morgan does not present a marquee name. But as TV Newser points out, he does have interviewing skills, having hosted multiple public affairs programs in his native U.K. including Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. In a clip of that program with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Brown enters a 21st Century gladiator arena while Morgan is seen in a pre-interview cut warning: “If he thinks I’m going to come bearing sweeties then he’s in for a surprise.”

Actually, Morgan does sound like a perfect replacement for King!

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