Can Piers Morgan draw an audience?

Jennifer Collins Jan 17, 2011

Can Piers Morgan draw an audience?

Jennifer Collins Jan 17, 2011


Bob Moon: America’s got talent — and it comes from the U.K. You might recognize the new host in Larry King’s time slot on CNN tonight. British journalist Piers Morgan will be kicking off his new show.

As Jennifer Collins reports, CNN is gambling it’ll bring back viewers.

Jennifer Collins: Larry King is an icon. He’s been on the air for 25 years. Besides those suspenders, he’s known for his softball questions, and recently, his even softer ratings.

Toby Miller: Larry King had run his course. Let’s be frank.

Toby Miller is a professor of popular culture at the University of California Riverside. He says King was getting creamed by more combative hosts like Sean Hannity on Fox News. CNN had also been losing viewers to MSNBC in King’s time slot.

Paul Dergarabedian is an entertainment analyst.

Paul Dergarabedian: Well, I think nine o’clock on CNN has been thought of as kind of a sleepy time slot. And I think programmers now can think of it as an opportunity.

Morgan is best known here as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” and former winner of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” He started as a tabloid journalist in the U.K. and kid gloves aren’t in his wardrobe.

Here’s what Donald Trump had to say about him.

Donald Trump: You’re certainly not diplomatic, but you did an amazing job and you beat the hell out of everybody. So tonight, Piers, you’re the celebrity apprentice.

Morgan was all charm when Larry King handed him the reins.

Piers Morgan: It’s a great honor to join the network and to work with you.

Larry King: It’s easy to replace me.

And that’s no joke. Toby Miller says Morgan’s tabloid background and more confrontational interview style is likely to attract new viewers, especially during his first weeks on the air.

Miller: People who want some verbal sparring and even some bitchiness with a British accent will probably get that delivered to them.

Morgan will also have to deliver a steady stream of big name guests. Tonight, he’s got that covered with Oprah.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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