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CNN finally confirms: Piers Morgan to succeed Larry King

The worst-kept secret in American television is finally revealed: the former Daily Mirror editor and America’s Got Talent judge is joining CNN.

The two big CNN stories that started playing out side by side out this past spring/summer were about former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and former British tabloid editor and “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan getting their own primetime shows on the ratings-starved network, Spitzer as a replacement for Campbell Brown at 8 p.m. and Morgan as a replacement for Larry King at 9.

CNN denied early reports about both, and though it confirmed at the end of June that Spitzer would start hosting a “nightly news and events discussion program” with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker come fall, it stayed mum about Morgan, even after Morgan himself recently admitted his negotiations with the network were drawing to a close.

But this morning, less than 24 hours after it revealed the name and premiere date of the new Spitzer program, CNN finally made the news about Morgan replacing King official.

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter was the first to report the announcement, which reads:

Global media personality and veteran newspaper editor Piers Morgan will host a candid, in-depth  newsmaker interview program on CNN beginning in January … The new program will air weeknights on CNN/U.S. at 9 pm ET/PT and will air worldwide on CNN International in more than 200 countries.

Here’s some context from the Times report:

It is an extraordinary coup for Mr. Morgan, who most American viewers know only as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” A deal between the parent companies of NBC and CNN cleared the way for Mr. Morgan to take both jobs.

Visibly, CNN is making a generational shift at 9 p.m., from the 76-year-old Mr. King to the 45-year-old Mr. Morgan.

In hiring Mr. Morgan, CNN is making a statement that it still thinks there is room in prime time for long-form interviews with public servants and starlets, a stark contrast to the partisan pundits on its higher-rated rivals, Fox News and MSNBC.

Once Mr. Morgan is installed at 9 p.m., CNN will have reformatted almost its entire prime time line-up of programs, with the exception of the 10 p.m. hour, which has been helmed by Anderson Cooper since 2005.

Reprinted with permission from The Business Insider.

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