Brash Britisher Piers Morgan is vowing that his new CNN talk show will be completely different from the show he’s replacing in January – CNN’s 25-year-old warhorse ‘Larry King Live.’
“The format, everything, will change,” Morgan, 45, told Deadline. “I’m not just going to be another man sitting in the CNN studio wearing red braces.”
Braces? That’s Brit-speak for suspenders, a reference to one of Larry King’s sartorial trademarks, and also a sign that Morgan ought to bone up on the American version of English before he starts confusing us all by talking about “lifts” (elevators), “loos” (bathrooms) and “lorries” (trucks).
“What I would say is that there will be significant format changes, and the show will look and feel different and distinctive to Larry’s,” Morgan said. “I don’t want to copy him because he’s a legend. You don’t follow Sinatra at the Sands and try and warble ‘My Way’.”
Despite the erosion of King’s audience over the years – a factor in the talk-show vet’s decision to retire at year’s end – Morgan, who hosts an interview show in the U.K. called ‘Life Stories,’ believes there’s ample opportunity on the U.S. cable news channels for an interview show to succeed in prime time. He vows to give CNN’s competitors a run for their money.
“Don’t get me wrong, they’re great at what they do,” Morgan said of CNN rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC. “But I think there’s a gap in the market. For years, Larry King has shown the power of the extended interview, which is something I’ve specialized in with my British talk shows. When it comes to my rivals, however long it takes, I’m going to be there to win. . . . I intend this show to be a game-changer in terms of how interview shows are conducted on American TV. And I haven’t joined CNN to come second, third or fourth.”
“Prepare for fireworks,” warned Morgan, who’s best-known in the U.S. as a judge on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ but enjoyed a long career in Britain as a newspaper editor and TV personality. “I know that to get CNN back to the top in prime time is going to take a lot of hard work, determination, tenacity, mischief, revelation, aggression, fun and brilliant interviews,” he said.
Morgan told the Web site that President Obama tops his guest wish list, though it doesn’t seem like he has any kind of commitment from the White House for a presidential appearance. Easier to book are his celebrity pals such as Simon Cowell and Donald Trump (Morgan was a winner on Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’). “Lots of people want to do my new show,” Morgan insisted. “I’m very confident about getting the people we want because I know lots of people.”
However, Madonna won’t be one of them – she’s apparently “banned,” Morgan said. “I may rescind the ban on Madonna,” he said. “Listen, if she wants to come on the show, then great. It’s just that we have a bit of history.” According to Deadline.com, that “history” has to do with Morgan criticizing her last spring when he questioned the sincerity of her commitment to charity work.
What do you think? Does Morgan’s self-confidence make you interested in checking him out when he debuts this winter? Or do you think he comes across as a blowhard? And do you think the kind of celebrity-interview show he intends to do has a future in a time period where partisan, argumentative talk shows are the order of the day?