Hanging out with Larry King at Nate ‘n Al’s. Why he calls the 2010 election ‘painful’

By Chris Ariens 

The LATimes’ James Rainey hangs out with Larry King at one of King’s regular haunts: Nate ‘n Al’s deli in Beverly Hills.  King, who in a few weeks will sign off from his 25-year run as a CNN host, was there with his regular pals talking about the same old stuff — sports, business and politics. 

Here, King can talk in depth about sports, rarely a subject on his show. His friends love to hash over the previous night’s program and rate the guests. They recall, in particular, telling King to give the boot to Nancy Grace. Too harsh. Too nasty. But then they met the anti-crime virago in person and were charmed. Now she’s got her own show on CNN’s sister network, HLN.

King calls the 2010 election “painful” because he wasn’t a part of CNN’s coverage.

“This was the saddest election. It’s the first one I didn’t work in 52 years,” King said, picking over a plate of matzo brie, the concoction of egg and unleavened bread that bears his name on the menu. “It was painful.”

As for King’s final guest on Thursday, Dec. 16, King hopes it’ll be the first guest he had on in June 1985. But…

As for the final show? King hopes to close things out with the man who gave him his first CNN interview back in 1985 — Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York and father of governor-elect Andrew Cuomo.

Only there’s a glitch: Cuomo had signed on, until he felt Eliot Spitzer, another former New York governor and now CNN talk host, insulted his son.

“I don’t know what he said,” King said, “but [Mario] Cuomo calls up CNN and says, ‘I will never go on CNN, because Spitzer is on there.'” King has tried everything to make it right. He has left messages. His brother has called. So has one of the guys who knows the Cuomos.