Is Piers Morgan Really Replacing Larry King?

By Alex Weprin 

Over the weekend a flurry of reports from the UK tabloids said that “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan was “close” to signing a rich $10 million contract to replace Larry King at 9 p.m. on CNN.

While the reports are surprisingly specific, the details don’t quite add up.

For starters, CNN currently has a massive hole to fill at 8 p.m. in the slot being vacated by Campbell Brown. By all accounts network executives are focused on figuring out what to do about that timeslot.

The first outlet to report the Piers Morgan story was the New York Post, which noted that Morgan was being considered for a “panel show.” That sounds a lot like the “Crossfire-type” program that has been rumored for a few weeks, and for which CNN was said to be pursuing Eliot Spitzer.

In addition, while Larry King’s ratings have been in decline, he is still very consistent for the cable network, and is often CNN’s top program in primetime.

In other words, CNN’s priority should be (and by all accounts is) finding a program for 8 p.m., not finding a successor to King at 9 p.m.

Of course, a spot at 8 p.m. on CNN is nothing to sneeze at, and it could serve as an audition for King’s time period down the line.

Morgan, who is a former tabloid editor himself, already hosts a UK “chat show,” so the King format is not new to him.

So will Morgan be replacing Larry King? Probably not anytime soon. But if CNN does add him to the long-rumored 8 p.m. panel show, and he performs well there, who knows…

Update: CNN tells TVNewser that they are declining to talk about specific individuals, but that they are looking at a lot of people for the 8 p.m. program.