King will leave legacy of being like family
It’s said that if you stand in Times Square long enough, the whole world will eventually pass you by. You could achieve the same results in a fraction of the time simply by watching “Larry King Live.”
The CNN host famous for interviewing people from all walks of life, from Henry Kissinger to Kermit the Fro g , announced on Tues-day that he would step away from his show in the fall after 25 years on the air.
“He’s a throwback,” says TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall, “the type of television personality that doesn’t exist anymore in that he’s a mainstream generalist — somebody who tries to cover politics, entertainment and human interest.”
An unlikely star, King, 76, became an icon the same way Johnny Carson did: by unobtrusively dropping into our living rooms every night until he seemed like family.
King is so instantly recogniz-
Larry King able that he’s been featured as himself in more than a dozen films, from “Ghostbusters” to “Swing Vote.”
During his 50-year career in broadcasting, King has conducted nearly 50,000 interviews with an astonishing array of newsmakers including athletes (Pete Rose to Michael Jordan), actors (Bette Davis to Angelina Jolie) and politicians (including every U.S. president since Richard Nixon).
One of the reasons King has been able to attract such an array of willing guests is that he’s an obliging host, more Merv Griffin than Mike Wallace. His style is conversational rather than inquisitorial.
In fact, King prides himself on his casual approach to research, refusing, for instance, to read any book before interviewing its author.
This preference for flying by the seat of his pants has frequently lead to criticism that he is clueless. He once asked the Dalai Lama, “Do you pray? And, if so, who do you pray to?” Born in Depression-era Brooklyn, the broadcaster, born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, got his start in local radio, chat- ting up anyone who wandered into Pumpernik’s restaurant in Miami Beach.
He never really abandoned that original style. Even “Larry King Live,” which began on CNN in 1985, had the feeling of a deli encounter, with Larry assuming the role of the curious guy on the adjoining stool.
His retirement is not coming about unexpectedly. His ratings are down sharply this year, nearly 50 percent.
Early speculation on who will succeed King has focused on candidates like Katie Couric, Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper. Surprisingly, the Suspendered One has designated “American Idol” announcer Ryan Seacrest as his preferred heir.
Good luck to whoever tries to fill his Hush Puppies.