Larry King Live

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Larry King Live
Genre Talk show
Created by Larry King
Presented byLarry King
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons20
No. of episodes6,120 [1]
Running time60 minutes (every night)
Original network CNN
Original releaseJune 3, 1985 (1985-06-03) 
December 16, 2010 (2010-12-16)
Followed by Piers Morgan Live
External links

Larry King Live is an American television talk show that was hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was the channel's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly. [2] [3]


Mainly aired from CNN's Los Angeles studios, the show was sometimes broadcast from the CNN Center in Atlanta, from the Time Warner Center in New York City, or from Washington, D.C., where King had gained national prominence during his years as a radio interviewer on the Larry King Show for the Mutual Broadcasting System. [4] Every night, King interviewed one or more prominent individuals, usually celebrities, politicians and businesspeople.

The one-hour show was broadcast three times a day in some areas, and was seen all over the world on CNN International.

On June 29, 2010, King announced that the program would end. [5] [6] [7] The final episode aired on December 16, [8] but a new episode on the war against cancer aired two days later on December 18. [9]

Larry King Live was replaced by Piers Morgan Tonight, a talk show hosted by British television personality and journalist Piers Morgan, that began airing on January 17, 2011. [10] It was renamed Piers Morgan Live in 2013, [11] and ran its last episode on March 28, 2014 after being cancelled. [12]


Interview style

Larry King mainly conducted interviews from the studio, but he also interviewed people on-site in the White House, their prison cells, their homes, and other unique locations. Critics have claimed that Larry King asks "soft" questions in comparison to other interviewers, which allows him to reach guests who would be averse to interviewing on "tough" talk shows. His reputation for asking easy, open-ended questions has made him attractive to important figures who want to state their position while avoiding being challenged on contentious topics. [13] When interviewed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, [14] King said that the secret to a good interview is to get the guest to talk about him- or herself, and to put oneself in the background pool.

A 1996 interview in The Washington Post [15] saw King note that he sometimes slips hard questions in between softballs. King prefers one-sentence questions. In interviews, King has also proclaimed that he prepares as little as possible for each program, does not read the books of the authors he interviews, [4] and admitted that the show was not journalism but "infotainment". He said that he tries to project an image of earnestness and sincerity in each interview, and the format of the show (King in suspenders instead of suit and tie, sitting directly next to the guest) reinforces that.

In response to "'softball' questions" accusations, King says, "I've never understood that. All I've tried to do is ask the best questions I could think of, listen to the answers, and then follow up. I've never not followed up. I don't attack anybody – that's not my style – but I follow up. I've asked people who say this, 'What's a softball question?' They'll say, 'You say to some movie star, what's your next project?' To me, that's not a softball. To me, that's interesting – what are you doing next?" [15]


King accepted call-in questions on some nights. Callers were identified only by city and state/province, and generally not by name. Occasionally, surprise guests telephoned the show and comment, like governors, royalty, and celebrities. At times, prank calls came in.

Frequent topics

During major election coverage, the program may center on political analysis and commentary, as the show's prime time airing generally coincides with the closing of polls in many states. Larry King would air generally near the end of each hour with various guests during election coverage while hosting a panel at the end of the night which is midnight eastern the usual time slot for the show's daily repeat outside of live election coverage.

One of King's recurring topics is the paranormal. A frequent guest is John Edward of the popular television show Crossing Over with John Edward. Edward comes on the show and gives callers a free chance to supposedly communicate, via him, with their dead loved ones. King also had alleged psychics such as Sylvia Browne and James Van Praagh on from time to time to do readings and discuss the future. King sometimes allows skeptics such as James Randi to debate the psychics. In an April 2005 episode, King hosted a panel discussion regarding Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and atheist views on the afterlife. King has also had topics about UFOs and Extraterrestrials where he goes on to pit them one against the other, believers views on the afterlife against skeptics.

King is also frequently accused of pandering to sensationalist news stories; for instance, the death of Anna Nicole Smith took up much of King's shows after the event, causing the cancellation of numerous guests and interviews that were already scheduled, most notably Christopher Hitchens, who had intended to discuss the Iraq situation.

After the death of a prominent celebrity, King would either replay a recent program featuring said celebrity (for instance, after actor Don Knotts' death in 2006 King replayed the interview with Knotts and Andy Griffith taken several months before) or will bring on family members and close confidantes to the deceased to reminisce on the departed's life.

Set design

Each studio set features an identical colored-dot map of the world in the background and one of King's trademarks, a vintage RCA microphone (as seen in the title card), on the desk. The microphone is a prop, [16] as King and his guests use lapel microphones.

Notable episodes

King interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin, September 8, 2000. Vladimir Putin with Larry King.jpg
King interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin, September 8, 2000.

Guest hosts

When King was absent from the show, other interviewers substituted for him.

Planned Al Gore hosting

Al Gore was supposed to host on May 6, 1999, with Oprah Winfrey as a guest and the topic was supposed to be the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre. However, with Gore's candidacy for the presidency pending, CNN decided not to let him host as a result of the controversy. [44]

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