After 25 Years, Larry King Signs Off

Source:  By BRIAN STELTER – New York Times

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 Joined by a dozen of his favorite guests over the decades, Larry King hosted his final edition of “Larry King Live” on Thursday, ending a 25-year chapter at CNN.

The suspenders will remain, he said, but his nightly forum for newsmakers and noisemakers will not. He said at the beginning of the program, “Welcome to the last ‘Larry King Live.’ It’s hard to say that. I knew this day was coming. These words are not easy to say.”

Mr. King, a television icon, announced in June that he had decided to step down from the program, which defined a generation of cable news and inspired an generation of interviewers. The ratings for “Larry King Live” had fallen sharply in recent years. In about a month “Piers Morgan Tonight” will take over the 9 p.m. time slot on CNN.

Mr. King, 77, will host specials four times a year for CNN, and he is exploring other on- and off-air opportunities. Said Bill Maher, a longtime friend of Mr. King’s, on the program, “This is the end of the show, not the end of a man.”

All sorts of stars came on “Larry King Live” on Thursday to praise Mr. King. The “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said the program had been “America’s kind of confessional,” and the “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest said Mr. King is “such a tremendous guy with a great heart.”

Mr. Seacrest hinted at a possible production collaboration with Mr. King, saying, “We’re in talks.”

Later, he introduced a taped message for Mr. King from President Obama.

“Larry, for 25 years, you’ve hosted a conversation between newsmakers, celebrities and the American people,” Mr. Obama said in the message. “From presidents and generals to Kermit the frog and Joe from Tacoma. You say that all you do is ask questions but for generations of Americans, the answers to those questions have surprised us, they have informed us, and they have opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms.”

Mr. King invited his wife and his children on the set, and here’s what he said as the program closed at 9:59 p.m.:

It’s not very often in my life I’ve been without words. I want to thank everybody associated with this program, all the people behind the scenes. As I’ve mentioned, Wendy and the staff, the floor people, everybody that makes it possible, even the suits at the top. Love them too.

When I started 25 years ago at a little studio in Washington, D.C., I never thought it would ever last this long or come to this. So I’m going to go on — do a lot of other things. We’re going to do specials here on CNN. I’m going to be seen in other places, do some radio work, be around baseball.

So you’re not going to see me go away. But you’re not going to see me here on this set anymore. For two weeks, they’re going to be playing highlight shows. I — I am — I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience: thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long?

Then the studio lights dimmed, and only Mr. King’s iconic microphone stayed lit.

Joined by a dozen of his favorite guests over the decades, Larry King hosted his final edition of “Larry King Live” on Thursday, ending a 25-year chapter at CNN.

The suspenders will remain, he said, but his nightly forum for newsmakers and noisemakers will not. He said at the beginning of the program, “Welcome to the last ‘Larry King Live.’ It’s hard to say that. I knew this day was coming. These words are not easy to say.”

Mr. King, a television icon, announced in June that he had decided to step down from the program, which defined a generation of cable news and inspired an generation of interviewers. The ratings for “Larry King Live” had fallen sharply in recent years. In about a month “Piers Morgan Tonight” will take over the 9 p.m. time slot on CNN.

Mr. King, 77, will host specials four times a year for CNN, and he is exploring other on- and off-air opportunities. Said Bill Maher, a longtime friend of Mr. King’s, on the program, “This is the end of the show, not the end of a man.”

All sorts of stars came on “Larry King Live” on Thursday to praise Mr. King. The “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said the program had been “America’s kind of confessional,” and the “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest said Mr. King is “such a tremendous guy with a great heart.”

Mr. Seacrest hinted at a possible production collaboration with Mr. King, saying, “We’re in talks.”

Later, he introduced a taped message for Mr. King from President Obama.

“Larry, for 25 years, you’ve hosted a conversation between newsmakers, celebrities and the American people,” Mr. Obama said in the message. “From presidents and generals to Kermit the frog and Joe from Tacoma. You say that all you do is ask questions but for generations of Americans, the answers to those questions have surprised us, they have informed us, and they have opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms.”

Mr. King invited his wife and his children on the set, and here’s what he said as the program closed at 9:59 p.m.:

It’s not very often in my life I’ve been without words. I want to thank everybody associated with this program, all the people behind the scenes. As I’ve mentioned, Wendy and the staff, the floor people, everybody that makes it possible, even the suits at the top. Love them too.

When I started 25 years ago at a little studio in Washington, D.C., I never thought it would ever last this long or come to this. So I’m going to go on — do a lot of other things. We’re going to do specials here on CNN. I’m going to be seen in other places, do some radio work, be around baseball.

So you’re not going to see me go away. But you’re not going to see me here on this set anymore. For two weeks, they’re going to be playing highlight shows. I — I am — I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience: thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long?

Then the studio lights dimmed, and only Mr. King’s iconic microphone stayed lit.

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