A Quick Look at CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight

Despite many jokes about Larry King's interviewing style, his show was a ratings hit and head honchos at CNN surely were worried about finding a suitable replacement after his retirement.  Now, Piers Morgan has won the coveted slot, but will his new show Piers Morgan Tonight achieve the same success as Larry King Live

If the first week is any indication, Morgan's new show will have an uphill battle.  From the first episode on Monday through the fifth episode on Friday, the ratings for Piers Morgan Tonight dropped 66%. 

Piers Morgan, a British journalist, is undoubtedly intelligent, a fearless interviewer unafraid to ask the tough questions, with impressive television instincts, but American audiences know him best as a reality show personality -- a judge on gthe lowbrow America's Got Talent and the winning contestant on Celebrity Apprentice.  He has a bad habit of making a smug-looking face that intensifies his apparent arrogance.  Whereas Larry King came across as a softball-tossing host of headline-grabbing guests, Piers Morgan seems to be a pompous Brit more interested in promoting himself than his interview subjects.  One example of this was in his premiere episode when he made a wager with his first guest, Oprah Winfrey, about who would land the first televised interview with quarterback Michael Vick. What was intended to be a cute publicity stunt came across as cocky over-confidence. 

Morgan is fully aware, I'm sure, despite his marketing campaign that places his face on billboards, commercials, and magazine advertisements, that the key draw for his new program will be the quality of the guests he can book.  He will need savvy producers who manage to get the big names, people in the news that everyone will want to see and hear speaking.  During his first week, in addition to Oprah, his guests included Howard Stern, Condaleeza Rice, Ricky Gervais, and George Clooney.  His guest Monday night was Rudy Giuliani.  Good enough?  You be the judge.

Larry King made it look easy.  Maybe if the ratings continue to dwindle, CNN should consider replacing Morgan with another popular host.  I hear Regis Philbin might be available next year.


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