Piers Morgan may have taken over the “Larry King Live” timeslot at CNN, but no one will ever really replace Larry King – or match him when it comes to big-name interviews. King clearly has a lot to talk about on stage.
Piers Morgan may have taken over the “Larry King Live” timeslot at CNN, but no one will ever really replace Larry King – or match him when it comes to big-name interviews. King’s “gets” include every U.S. president from Richard M. Nixon to Barack Obama, and A-list celebrities like Marlon Brando, who famously kissed the talk titan on the lips, and Jerry Seinfeld, who humorously challenged King’s contention that “Seinfeld” had been canceled.
And the broadcasting legend hasn’t only been busy in front of the cameras. The 77-year-old has been married eight times to seven different women, and is the father of five – including sons Cameron, 12, and Chance, 11, with current wife Shawn Southwick-King. While continuing to produce quarterly specials for CNN, the Emmy Award winner with 50 years in radio and television is now sharing his stories in a one-man show. King clearly has a lot to talk about on stage, and plenty to say off stage, too, as evidenced in a recent telephone conversation.
R. Scott Reedy: How does it feel to be embarking on a new career in stand-up comedy?
Larry King: I learned a long time ago that this isn’t brain surgery, but I love it. When I go out on stage, it is orgasmic. They know you immediately. Then you get to make them laugh, which is my favorite thing to do. I’ve been very lucky, because I have always enjoyed my career. Once the little red light went on, I was happy. I didn’t enjoy myself as much with the Kardashians as I did with Bill Clinton, but I always enjoyed myself. From the time when I was a disc jockey in Miami making $50 a week, to my 25 years at CNN, to the present, the actual enjoyment has always been the same for me. Having a microphone in your hand – on radio, on television, or on stage – is a privilege.
RSR: What’s your live show like?
LK: It is 90 minutes of pure fun. I’ll be doing some jokes interspersed with childhood stories and funny stories about my career and what it is like to have kids in their 40s and as young as 11. I’ve spoken at conventions and done private shows for sales conferences over the years. My nephew, Scott Zigler, director of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard, knew how much I enjoyed those appearances so he suggested I do this show. With the help of director Jim Millan, who’s the creative force behind the Kids in the Hall, we’ve put together a Broadway-style production.
RSR: You’ve interviewed Donald Trump many times. Do you think he is serious about becoming a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2012?
Page 2 of 2 - LK: Donald has always talked about running for president. And right now, he is on a whirl. He doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on. He went off half-cocked with the whole Obama birth certificate thing. It was just crazy when he stood there and took credit for making the president release his birth certificate. The media people who were there were laughing at him. His ego is just spiraling out of control. I’ve known Donald for a long time and I like him. I look past his ego. He really is a good guy, compassionate and very generous. He may be so carried away at this point that he might actually enter the race, but, in my gut, I don’t think he is going to run. He’ll make an announcement at the end of “Celebrity Apprentice,” taking credit for changing the direction of politics in America, and then he won’t run. His ego couldn’t sustain a defeat. He just couldn’t handle it.
RSR: What do you think of “Piers Morgan Tonight?”
LK: I’ve done Piers’s show, of course, and I see it occasionally. He’s very British and what he’s doing is very different from what we did. I would have done a program on the Royal Wedding, for sure, but I would never have been in London covering it for days. I don’t know why America needs to look at a love story about an institution we fought a war to get away from. All during that coverage, I kept asking myself, “Is everything all set now in Japan?” The answer is that things are far from okay in Japan, but that story gets pushed aside for a royal wedding. Even with the tornadoes that took such a tremendous human toll in the South, we still heard more from London than from Alabama and Mississippi. And weather is the one universal story that affects all of us. If I were there now, I’d be covering the flooding in the South and trying to land interviews with Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak, both of whom I have interviewed before. I miss being on CNN every night, of course, but I also love being home more so that I can coach my sons’ little league teams. And then I can go out on the road with this show. I love what I am doing right now.