- - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Larry King has returned as a talk show host this week, at his new home on the Internet.

“Larry King Now” is produced by Ora TV, a new digital venture backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Ora TV announced a deal to make “Now” also available through the online service Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Mr. King’s first guest was comic producer Seth MacFarlane of “Family Guy” and “Ted.” Other guests scheduled for this week include political commentator Meghan McCain and “Magic Mike” actor Matthew McConaughey.

Mr. King spent a quarter-century as a prime-time talk show host at CNN. Episodes of his new, half-hour show will be posted on the Hulu website in the early evening Monday through Thursday.

Breaking Bad‘s’ Walt could have been Cusack, Broderick

Kevin Richardson will join his former mates in the Backstreet Boys (from ... more >

For fans of “Breaking Bad,” it might be hard to imagine anyone other than Bryan Cranston as Walter White. In fact, Emmy voters find Mr. Cranston so good in his portrayal of a chemistry teacher-turned-meth dealer they have rewarded him with three statuettes.

But the actor previously best known for playing the dad on Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” wasn’t the first choice of network AMC or production company Sony Pictures Television.

Series creator Vince Gilligan had been impressed with Mr. Cranston’s 1998 guest-starring turn on “The X-Files,” on which he played a desperate man suffering from radiation exposure, and pushed for the actor. But the suits had trouble envisioning Fox’s suburban dad as their star and wanted to cast a big-name movie star.

Their picks? John Cusack or Matthew Broderick.

“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in ‘Malcolm in the Middle.’ We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’ ” one former executive recalled.

Mr. Cusack and Mr. Broderick both passed on the show, and after Mr. Gilligan showed executives Mr. Cranston’s “X-Files” episode, minds began to change.

“That was a tricky part to cast on ‘X-Files,’ ” Mr. Gilligan said. “We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him. Bryan nailed it.”

The role initially was conceived for a 40-year-old — Mr. Cranston is now 56 — but AMC requested the change in age.

“We pushed for him to be 50 because at 40 he’s a little too young to have this crisis,” said Vlad Wolynetz, former AMC vice president for production. “It was just so much more impactful to have him a little bit older.”

As for Mr. Cranston, “Breaking Bad” offered the type of challenge and creative freedom he craved after years on a network sitcom.

Story Continues →