Larry King's Age Not a Concern at New Internet Network Ora.tv
The former CNN interviewer, who is launching a new show for the digital TV venture, will "surprise" people, executive Jon Housman tells THR.
At 78, Larry King will pick up where he left off as a CNN anchor to launch a new show on the soon-to-launch Internet TV network Ora.tv, which he co-founded with Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim.
The news, announced Monday, begs the blunt question: is King, who brings an older demo, a good fit for a youthful medium?
Jon Housman, chief executive of Ora.tv, told The Hollywood Reporter that he wasn't worried in the slightest.
"He's just got a very, remarkably open mind to doing new things," said Housman in an interview, observing King's ability to connect with viewers. Housman noted that "most of our parents" are watching programs on Hulu and Netflix, and also mentioned King's social-media presence (including a Twitter account which boasts 2,063,492 followers-and-counting).
Housman, who formerly headed digital journalism ventures at News Corporation, said King's program would echo his CNN format with a daily panel of interviews featuring global leaders, newsmakers and entertainment figures. "The world knows what to expect from Larry, and we'd be fools not to (provide that)," he noted.
At the same time, Housman added, King will "surprise people" with content not typically seen from him; while he won't be involved in programming development, the veteran broadcaster (now web-caster) will be key in attracting boldfaced names to Ora.tv's New York-based operation, slated to launch later this year.
"He's a magnet for all sorts of other talent and people," Housman said. "He also has a good instinct for what works in television."
The network is now talking with other on-air personalities to join King on the schedule. Among them, according to Housman: "household names that people love," as well as undiscovered personalities. Several shows are in development and will be announced in the coming months.
Ora.tv's ad-supported programming -- a purported mix of news and entertainment-related fare -- will be streamed on computers, phones, tablets and internet TVs. Housman said talks were being held with potential distributors and technology partners. "We want to partner with top-tier players in the space," Housman said, declining to name names.
Slim, who met King at a charity event several years ago, ranks No. 1 on Bloomberg's new list of the Top 20 global billionaires, with a fortune of $68.5 billion. He'll finance Ora.tv through his America Movil, the biggest wireless company in Latin America, where he's also a leader in pay-TV for countries except Mexico. (Slim's efforts to hone in on the TV market in his native country have been blocked by regulators out of competition concerns.)
When asked whether Ora.tv's videos would be streamed from America Movil channels, Housman said: "As of now, we don't have distribution with America Movil -- but we are looking at deals in Latin America." He said Ora.tv had "no pressure" from Slim's company to forge a partnership.
King departed CNN on amicable terms last month, putting an end to his duties hosting four specials per year for the cable channel. He retired from his own show in December 2010 and was replaced in the same role by Piers Morgan.