TCA 2012: Larry King On His New Hulu Show and CNN's Ratings Woes

Larry King TCA - P 2012
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Larry King TCA - P 2012

Larry King did the first few episodes of his new Hulu interview program Larry King Now from the “trophy room” at his home in Beverly Hills. Now the show – which began streaming July 17 – has a real studio in Glendale. And the clip shown to media reporters during Hulu’s portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour Tuesday featured an eclectic list of guests from Betty White to Seth MacFarlane to Oliver Stone.

“This is an unencumbered show,” explained King. “There are certain boundaries. I’m not gong to curse. If guests do curse, we bleep that out because it’s just not my style.”

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Sample question posed to Stone: “You were arrested for marijuana possession, weren’t you? Do you think it should be legalized?”

Larry King Now is produced by Hulu and Ora.TV – the digital network backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. King said he thought he’d just relax and watch his young sons play baseball when he left CNN at the end of 2010 after more than 25 years. But he realized that at 78, he still had plenty of energy, not to mention curiosity. He reads five or six newspapers every day and watches CNN, MNSBC and “some” Fox News.

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“Curiosity fills me up,” he said. “I wake up every morning and [think] what the hell is going to happen today? I’m always asking people that I meet: ‘Who are you? What do you do? And why do you do it?' I’m very hard to probably live with. You probably don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.”

Asked for his opinion of CNN’s ratings woes, King allowed that the general tenor of much of the media today and CNN’s insistence on staking the middle ground could be at the root of the network’s declining audience share. 

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“I have a great deal of affection for CNN,” said King, complementing shows fronted by Erin Burnett, Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper. “The problem they face in this vituperative media culture, is on the left [viewers] have MSNBC and on the right they have Fox. If I were put in charge of programming at CNN I don’t know what I'd do.

“What we have now is more information readily available,” he continued. “But are we better serves with 500 outlets? I grew up with three channels. During Vietnam, the news got there the day later. But we had Walter Cronkite. Today, there’s a lot of get it on instead of get it right So I’m not sure if we’re better served.” 

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