CNN lauds King for half-century in broadcasting

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Larry King on Tuesday discussed the business of balancing the "People magazine culture" with hard-news coverage.

"It's a dilemma," the host of CNN's "Larry King Live" said. "You can make a case that the terrible situation in Sudan is worth a lot more than the Laci Peterson murder case, but what will be watched more?"

King was on hand to discuss his 50 years in broadcasting during Turner Broadcasting's portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena.

CNN is planning to highlight the milestone from April 16-22 with a "King-sized week" of "Larry King Live," including such guests as Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric, the latter of whom will turn the tables on King and serve as the interviewer instead of the interviewee.

Also planned are a roast emceed by Bill Maher that will air in April and a two-hour special called "CNN Presents: Larry King — 50 Years of Pop Culture."

King noted that his contract expires in 2009, at which time he will have been at the network for 24 years. "I have no conviction to leave," he said.

Added CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton, "There's no question that he can sit in the chair as long as he continues to perform, and I have no doubt that he will."

CNN also said Tuesday that it is launching a new longform investigation series, "CNN: Special Investigations Unit," that will feature network correspondents delivering in-depth reports on pressing issues in the news. The first installment will be a one-hour examination of home-grown Muslim extremism in the U.K., reported by Christiane Amanpour and set to premiere at 8 p.m. ET Jan. 20.

CNN said the show's topical subject matter will complement its documentary series "CNN Presents," which will hone its focus on "longer-lead-time, multihour 'event' programming."

In addition, Headline News' "Glenn Beck" is launching a group of quarterly specials addressing "some of the most hotly debated issues of the day." The first installment, "Myths of Global Warming," is set to premiere in late February or early March.

Separately, ABC News said Tuesday that host Glenn Beck will join "Good Morning America" as a regular contributor on "various cultural stories that impact the country today."

Later in the day at TCA, Henry Schleiff, president and CEO of Crown Media Holdings, discussed upcoming programming strategy for the company's Hallmark Channel, which in March will begin airing movies at 9 and 11 weeknights.

Each night will be themed, with mysteries on Mondays and Fridays, "tear-jerkers" on Tuesdays, romantic movies on Wednesdays and Westerns on Thursdays.
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