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June 30, 2010

Larry King update: CNN to stick to talk format

Staff report

Despite the blizzard of speculation in the wake of Larry King's announcement that he will depart his program this fall, there are a few hard facts emerging.

Sources inside the network say CNN management wasn't prepared to crown a successor until settling with King on his exit strategy. Now that that's squared away, the focus shifts to deciding on a replacement.

What little CNN is saying on the record came from Jon Klein, president of the network, in his sole interview Wednesday with the Associated Press. While Klein gave little indication of who he had in mind to replace King -- though he did offer praise to Katie Couric -- he at least confirmed that CNN won't deviate from the interview format. 

"We will continue to do a provocative, topical, intelligent newsmaker interview show every night," he said, "but the format and the style is going to depend a lot on the host — their interests, their style, their approach. Step one is get a host and build the show around them."

While Klein seemed to go out of his way in an email to Broadcasting & Cable to debunk rumors that "America's Got Talent" judge Piers Morgan is next in line as King's replacement, it doesn't necessarily mean Morgan -- or anyone -- is out of the running.

While a CNN rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the network has not "negotiated with Piers" and declined further comment, the network seems to be taking pains to suggest no negotiations are currently going on with anyone -- an unlikely scenario.

The list of assumed candidates includes Ryan Seacrest, who King himself touted on Tuesday's program. Seacrest recently indicated he'd walk away from his radio gig at Clear Channel at the close of his current three-year contract to explore new opportunities.


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