Regis Philbin appeared and sang two lines of a song, expecting King to pick up on it and join him, but King was stumped. Dr. Phil was cut off, almost in mid-sentence, because King said time was too short. The Clinton interview was marred with uncomfortable silences and talk-overs because there was a brief delay in what King said and what Clinton could hear.
King referred to Clinton, without explanation, as a fellow member of the “zipper club,” and the control room had to prevail upon the host to explain a few minutes later that it was a reference to the fact both men had undergone open heart surgery.
“I’m glad you clarified that!” Clinton said to King, who has had seven wives.
King was joined at his table by Ryan Seacrest and Bill Maher, who have both filled in for King during breaks in the past. Maher tried not to let the show quickly become maudlin.
“This is not Larry’s funeral,” he said. “He’s hopefully going to be in our living rooms for a lot of years to come. This is the end of a show, not the end of a man.”
Rival MSNBC saluted King by buying an ad in USA Today on Thursday, calling King “one of a kind.” “Larry, thank you for everything you’ve done to advance cable news,” the ad read.
Others were less nostalgic: The Los Angeles Times website posted videos of King’s most embarrassing moments, including when he asked an incredulous Jerry Seinfeld whether NBC had canceled his top-rated comedy.
It’s been a muted exit for King, with CNN touting Morgan’s upcoming show in ads more than King’s. Even as the end neared, King finished fourth in his time slot for Tuesday’s interview with the Judds, behind Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and CNN sister network HLN’s Joy Behar. King interviewed Barbra Streisand on Wednesday night.
CNN is owned by Time Warner.
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