Piers Morgan is known to American audiences as the no-nonsense judge on “America’s Got Talent” and winner of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But when he takes over Larry King’s CNN time slot this evening with his new talk show, “Piers Morgan Tonight,” the bombastic Brit plans to introduce viewers to his journalistic side, he told writers at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., last week.

Opinionated doesn’t mean partisan
“I don’t think you have to be partisan to be opinionated,” Morgan, a newspaper veteran with 20 years in the business, said. “I could cite you Anderson Cooper in Katrina or Haiti. Very opinionated ... very aggressive, but never straying into what I would call traditional partisan politics. But that’s what CNN has to do more of. We have to make more noise. You know, we’re up against new beasts in the jungle. Fox News didn’t exist six, seven years ago.”

Guests better come prepared for lively conversation
“Guests are going to have a choice between having a safe, easy, five-minute ride to plug their movie [on another talk show], which in the end is rather boring and unmemorable, or they’re going to have a choice of coming on for an hour and jousting with this rather annoying Brit. And if they succeed, they’ll be the toast of America. That’s got to be a good sales pitch, doesn’t it?”

But The Material Girl is never welcome
In December, Morgan told Britain’s “Daily Express” he would ban Madonna from “Tonight.” “She’s kind of been an irritant in my life for 20 years, so I had to ban her from the show. It’s probably quite childish, but it made me feel better,” he told critics. “Lady Gaga is half her age, twice as good looking, twice as talented and twice as hot. I mean, why would I bother with Madonna? Seriously.”

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