King’s famous avoidance of over-preparation _ he has always opted to approach each interviewee fresh, unburdened by too many facts _ has begun to catch up with him in recent years. His occasional flubs have made him seem out of touch. Or worse. (A prime example from three years ago found King asking Jerry Seinfeld if he had voluntarily left his sitcom or been canceled by his network, which, as everybody else knows, had been ready to hand him the keys to the treasury to stay. “I was the No. 1 show in television, Larry,” replied Seinfeld with a flabbergasted look. “Do you know who I am?”)
At its start, “Larry King Live” was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. King, too. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show the reputation of a place where things happened, where news was made.
Then in 1997 he moved to Los Angeles, which seemed a nod to show biz over substance _ not to mention a more convenient routine for King. A man who once had hosted a nationwide radio program in the wee hours of the night, now he was done with “Larry King Live” at 7 p.m. local time.
After Thursday’s show, he’s flat-out calling it a day. The points of light that form his dotted world-map backdrop will be dark.
He has estimated that he’s conducted 50,000 interviews during his half-century-long broadcasting career. Maybe so. And maybe he should have stopped a couple thousand earlier. But that doesn’t mean King (and his nightly suspenders and the safe space he created for his thousands of guests) won’t be missed after Thursday, when he’s gone.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org.