Piers Morgan is replacing legendary interviewer Larry King, the recently retired host of CNN’s nightly interview show that broadcast across the globe for 25 years.
Morgan, one of Britain’s most famous journalists, has enjoyed a professional career spanning more than 20 years that saw him evolve from a tabloid showbiz columnist and national newspaper editor to an international celebrity judge and interviewer.
The 45-year-old’s rise to global broadcasting stardom is on the verge of completion, as CNN’s new flagship talk show, Piers Morgan Tonight, premieres this week.
How are you different from Larry King?
Well, I'm 32 years younger and I've had six less wives. So far.
But seriously, I think that we come at interviews in a very different way. Larry prefers not to know too much about his guest so he can chat to them as if they are someone he just met in a bar, and that has worked brilliantly for him for so long. I'm a journalist, so I come at interviews in a more forensic way. I like to do a lot of research and preparation, so wherever the guest goes, I can go with them. One thing we both have in common is boundless curiosity. Larry and I have a fascination for people.
As an interviewer, will you maintain your bullish style?
Of course! I like being pretty direct, and I don't suffer fools or people trying to pull the wool over my eyes. My guests will get the experience their behaviour deserves, if they're smart and friendly, it will all go fine. If they're dumb and hostile, well - not so fine.
You have said you prefer to air a pre-recorded interview rather than live. What’s the difference between a more theatrical, entertainment interview (pre-recorded) and a hard news one (live) that makes you think like this?
A pre-recorded interview can be just as hard news as a live one, if not more so. The interview is the same, you just have more time to market and promote the content across all media. As you've all seen with Oprah, we've managed to get so much stuff out there that the whole world knows about it, and there's a terrific buzz as a result.
Who would you rather interview – Susan Boyle or Barack Obama and why?
I'd like to interview both, maybe at the same time. After all, both are living the American dream, and both are human beings with the same vital organs as the rest of us. I like to think I am as easy talking to a king as a waiter. It's important never to be over-awed or under-awed by guests. A healthy enthusiasm is key to a great interview, even if you don't actually like the subject.
Is there anything you wouldn’t ask?
No. Nobody has to answer a question, there's no gun to their head. But an interviewer should always be free to ask whatever they like.
What is your most memorable moment from your career as a newspaper journalist?
Winning Newspaper of the Year award at the British Press Awards in 2002 for our coverage of the 9/11 tragedy. It was the biggest news story of my lifetime, so it meant a lot to me professionally that our peers believed we reported it the best.