King will leave legacy of be­ing like fam­ily

Austin American-Statesman - - TVTONIGHT - By David Hilt­brand

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.

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