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Piers Morgan and Oprah: Quick Take

Debut of Morgan's CNN interview series not nearly as compelling as expected.

When Piers Morgan got the job of replacing Larry King on CNN, he didn’t seem to care that at least half of America didn’t know who he was. He’s a confident sort, longtime friend of Simon Cowell, newspaper editor, friend of royalty and man about town.

When he met television critics from around the country and Canada earlier this month, he was both astonishingly and provocatively cocky.

But you could see his plan. You could see why he’s successful (because he believes in himself) and why he’s absolutely convinced he’ll be a hit as a talk show host on CNN (because he believes in himself beyond any measure of egotistical elasticity).

His presence in front of the nation’s critics was a lesson in audacity and bluntness. And though that might turn people off – it certainly did that day – there’s an admirable quality to such a boldly self-assured person. It’s not every day you meet someone so unrepentantly in love with themselves.

Morgan boasted then that Oprah would be his first guest, a coup, a “get” for his debut. Never mind that she also came to talk to 200 of us in the same ballroom.

Clips on CNN of the upcoming interview had Oprah saying, “He’s good. … Oh, he’s good.”

So the bar was set very, very high. (Though given Ricky Gervais’ evisceration of Hollywood at the Golden Globes on Sunday, his interview on Thursday could be better.) In any case, Morgan’s interview with Oprah did what most overhyped spectacles do – it imploded upon everyone’s expectations. The interview was only mildly revealing, with Oprah telling Morgan that she “wasn’t going there” a number of times and Morgan coyly (some might say feebly) trying to get her to reconsider.

Unlike King, who gained a reputation for being wildly unprepared and thus allowing his “curiosity” to take the interview in all kinds of strange (and often pointless) directions, Morgan is vastly more prepared. But Oprah is a media pro and she’s not going to be lured into any of his interview traps – a point she made many times as they talked.

So the end result wasn’t so much an interview as a chat, which fell flatter than people might have expected. It did, for all the world, seem like two self-important rich people talking to each other. And that made it no different than Oprah talking to her celebrity friends on her show or Barbara Walters talking to Oprah.

Yet Morgan won’t be judged on one night – and he shouldn’t be. Not even one week, really. He’s got lots of interesting people on board this launch week and he deserves to be watched. But as to evaluating him, to finding out whether he’s the right person for the audience that watched Larry King, whether he can stomach those weeks when almost no interesting guests are available, remains to be seen.

The two critical questions in regard to Morgan finding an audience on these shores and being as successful as he predicts, rests on whether people will consider him too upper class (too posh, in what remains of the King’s English), and whether he’s too arrogant.

He is, without a doubt, both. And if Larry King was also both, he did a masterful job of hiding it under suspenders and his faux “I know nothing” lack of preparation.

Morgan has no interest in such coyness. He is who he is. Take him or leave him.


Piers Morgan Live Tweet, begins...now...
I hate it already.
Damn, I'd have gone right to the Stedman question first.
Wait, two minutes in and O is talking about crying? Man up, O. Walk it off.
She said the "thank you Febreeze"thing to us.
Piers said Gayle was the "gatekeeper." That's exactly what Stedman said.
I have an inner circle of five or six people. But I ate them. (no, no,no, stop it...kidding...alright, back on track...)
I'm never going to discuss it again. O on "the rumors." Why is it such a big deal to "go there" and ask Oprah if she loves Gayle?
Gayle can "make the summit." (I will now make everything dirty. No, no, no I won't....)
You are the American queen. - Piers on Oprah. And yes, I had a bucket already near me. Preparation, people, preparation.
To be sitting, in 2011, talking to Morgan is a greater achievement than....wait, Obama is president. Nevermind.
Oprah thought she'd be a 4th grade teacher. "At the core, I am a teacher." She teaches aspirational arts and self-esteem 101.
Before commercial break, a cut to...Gayle. Who congratulations Piers and confirms once again that she and Oprah control all media.
I wonder how this adoration of the Queen of England thing Piers is so big on will go over with Americans.
This is a whole lot less spectacular than expected. Actually, no, there were no expectations.
I just want to hear Piers be as clueless as Larry King. "So, you have a TV show, yes?"
I am the messenger to deliver the message of hope. "My personal journey is to fulfill the highest expression of myself." Whuck?
200 British pounds are bet between O and Piers on who will get Michael Vick first. Wait, what about the Euro?
I am trying to be my best self tonight in these tweets. I don't want to be too mean. But you should know I'm dressed as Stedman.
I'm the love brand. - O. "I am the love and connection brand." And I am, not coincidentally, laughing out loud.
Wait Piers asks her if she's been "properly" in love and it's called a great question? Who has interviewed her previously, EW? People?
Oprah says 2 people have broken her heart. Not Stedman. Not Gayle. Um, God? Zeus?
Note to Piers Morgan: Telling people they remind them of Prince Philip does not translate here. Dude, we will make the UK the 51st state!
Do you know who you remind me of? The 4th Duke of Edinburgh. Also, Prince Narnia.
Both Oprah and Morgan say they've never been in therapy? I wonder if they want to come with me to shock therapy tomorrow to forget this.
Is that a cigar box on the table there? Break them out, Piers! And some Cognac. Or wine. Or a gigantic bong. Prince Philip would do it, bud.
HRH Piers Morgan continues...
You're wasting your time on the Stedman thing? "I'm not getting married. I'm not just the marrying kind." Until, of course, it's legal .
It takes a very different kind of person to put up with all of this. Translation: You have to be your best self to tolerate me.
Do you ever wish you'd been a mother? - Morgan. O pauses, puts finger in ear, says no. I guess she's never seen "Lie to Me."
Do you know who you remind me ot? The Lady Davina Lewis and Prince George, Duke of Cambridge.
Wait, Oprah drank detergent as a teen? I was looking for obscure dutchesses! Not cut out for this. Also, bored by watching it.
Wait, she was Miss Fire Prevention? I thought I had a joke there, but just spaced it.
We are approaching the end of Piers Morgan Conquers America and I am SO missing, "Pawtucket, line 1! Have you seen Superman?" And suspenders
I could be wrong, but my professional take so far is that two very rich people are talking to each other. That's journalism, baby!
You bored the life out of critics for 18 minutes and 15 second at TCA. Aaaaand, go.
Will you play a hypothetical game with me. - Morgan. Me: "No!" Even Prince Philip knows those questions are bullshit.
464 work for Oprah. 398 of them have already chopped off their ears.
Get in your lane Oprah! You don't want me in that lane! I am so lost here. No, YOU"RE lost here. I am now in the fast lane to my wine.
Ooooh. Oprah likes tequila. I like her a lot more now.
Did you see Piers Morgan's face as he laughed with Oprah about the $2.7 billion? I never, ever want to see that face again.
When I'm gone, everything I have will go to charity. Somewhere, Gayle just fell down. Stedman is up on a roof. This just went sideways.
Piers Morgan is NOT a great interviewer. My second question to Oprah, after Stedman, would be: "How much does a gallon of milk cost?"
The thing that I do best, Piers...is be here, be now. Right here, right now. The thing that pains ME the most, is being right here, now.
I don't believe Oprah hasn't been in therapy. Not for a second.
I am profoundly rewarded by this blessing of an experience that I get to have a platform. Can not cosign on that.
My supreme moment of destiny...I am very clear that my destiny is greater than myself. She's got a network and she knows how to use it.
Piers Morgan - why would you weep over MLK? I mean, he was never a duke and that whole king thing was a sham, right? He was not knighted.
MLK "would have been so proud" to see Oprah and OWN. Got ego?
I stand in the shoes and on the shoulders of those who came before me. - Passing on that joke.
How have I done? Piers Morgan's last question. Ego much? "You've been surprising," O says. I'm going to contradict both those in my review