I’m sure when Larry King retired and his long-time show Larry King Live ended there was a lot of speculation about Piers Morgan and whether he’d be able to “replace” Larry King. We all know it’s always a tough job to fill the shoes of a predecessor…expectations loom and of course comparisons are made.
I was an occasional Larry King Live viewer, and I’ve remained an occasional Piers Morgan Tonight viewer just the same – initially due to curiosity because of how he was being “sold” to viewers in the lead up to the launch of the new show.
Is Piers Larry? No, but he shouldn’t be – he’s Piers, and that’s why CNN hired him for the new show – to appeal to a changing viewer demographic. Is he shaping up to be all that we expected from the hype? Not quite (and Larry King would agree) – he’s not that “dangerous”, but Piers is landing some great interviews! One of the things I do like in him as an interviewer is that he is actually a bit “softer” than Larry, and he (so far) doesn’t interrupt his guests! He may not have the long-time relationships with many guests that the older King developed over time, but he does seem to have a reasonable “arsenal” just the same, and likely the potential to develop these over time just as Larry did.
I thought it was very bold of Piers to launch his show with one of the world’s best, and most popular interviewers as his first guest/interview, namely Oprah Winfrey. On the one hand it showed that he could land the great interviews, just like Larry, but in watching the interview it was clear that he was in awe of Oprah, and he instead came across as somewhat timid and lacking in confidence – not the “dangerous”, arrogant, killer interviewer he was built up to be. In many ways it felt like a very awkward interview, but good for him for going out on a limb for his first interview, and of course in the end getting the “thumbs up” endorsement from Oprah! There was method to his madness!
While the initial ratings for the show weren’t where CNN would like them to be, I think they’ll find that this might be transitional as people get used to the “real” Piers Morgan vs. the one they were “sold” (or over-sold). That, or maybe they got it wrong and Piers isn’t a good – or better – fit than Larry for the viewer demographic. I guess time will tell whether the Piers Morgan brand succeeds in its appeal.
What do you think? Is Piers Morgan a good replacement for Larry King? Were we over-sold?