Larry King closes his CNN gig


LOS ANGELES — The man behind the microphone has hung up his suspenders.

After a quarter of a century (and more than 6,000 shows), CNN’s “Larry King Live” ended its run Thursday night.

“It’s not very often in my life that I’ve been
without words,” King, clad in red suspenders and a red-and-white
polka-dot tie, said at the close of his show. “I never thought it would
last this long or come to this.”

A gathering spot for ambitious politicians and
repentant celebrities for 25 years, the network’s showpiece in prime
time bid adieu with a gaggle of guests, with King protege Ryan Seacrest serving as a veritable ringmaster. Comedian Bill Maher and “Dr. Phil” McGraw joined Seacrest and King in the L.A. studio; others, including President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Katie Couric, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin and Tony Bennett chimed in via satellite.

At the start of the show, Maher cautioned against eulogizing King: “This is the end of a show, not the end of this man.”

While some criticized the veteran host’s interview
style over the course of his career as too lenient or lacking in
preparation, on Thursday night, he was king.

As King rested his chin on his hand (his trademark move), each guest lauded his impact on broadcast TV. Brian Williams, host of “NBC Nightly News,” noted how King’s show was “America’s confessional.” Veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters joked that his departure meant less competition for her. The Rev. Billy Graham, in a letter read by Seacrest, said King would be “greatly missed in my evening routine.”

There’s no denying King’s gift for gab: he’s done
nearly 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career that included a stint
in radio prior to joining CNN.

But the tech-savvy 77-year-old host announced in
late June, via Twitter, that he would end his nightly CNN gig. King is
not abandoning court completely; he will host specials on the cable
news channel.

His decision to sign off from his evening duties comes as the network has experienced a steep decline in the ratings this year.

Despite his broadcasting legacy, the end of his
reign was met without hullabaloo from the channel he spearheaded. The
CNN promotion machine, instead, has switched its focus to the future of
the network: British talk-show host and “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan, who will take over the time slot in January with “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

But King, after all, is a minimalist. In his signature style, he ended things simply: “Instead of goodbye, how ’bout ‘so long’?”

Always asking the questions.


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