So Larry King is waiting for one of his CNN specials to come on the air. This is largely how he thought his life would be after Larry King Live. He’d do specials, do some standup, then watch the final product live as his specials aired. It’s May 2nd, 2011.
His special doesn’t air. CNN’s breaking in with news. The White House has called a press conference at 10 p.m. Eastern on a Sunday—a truly weird time for this sort of thing. No one knows what it’s about.
He gets that rush that he should go to the studio to start a show he no longer has.
Turns out Osama bin Laden’s been captured. He would’ve been reporting on this.
This is when Larry King knew he had to come back.
Now he is. Starting tonight, Larry King is reporting the news and interviewing anybody you’d consider important. And he’s doing it Monday through Thursday every week on Hulu and Hulu Plus. He’ll never miss that sort of story again.
The show’s called “Larry King Now.” Larry will talk with celebrities and newsmakers and presidents and the generally famous…or infamous. They’ll come on his show and he’ll get them to tell their story in full.
Here’s his first week, for example: The show will start of with Seth MacFarlane, who just released “Ted,” the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time last month. He’ll have Matthew McConaughey, too, who just finished “Magic Mike.” Then there’s Meghan McCain, the first of a smattering of influential political figures of the moment.
And it’s funded by—no joke—the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, who wanted to live in a world where this guy is doing talk shows every night. “Larry King Now” is the first show Hulu is distributing through a partnership with Ora TV.
And we can’t wait. Larry King is iconic and reinvigorated. We’re excited to get our news from him every night again.
So here’s a little more from Larry about his return.
Hulu: So when did you realize you wanted to come back?
Larry: I realized pretty quick. When I left CNN, for a couple of weeks it was fine, and then a big story broke. I will never forget the night. We had done a special on Alzheimer’s. We were about to watch it. They ran it once.
They were about to air it a second time, and then they killed Osama bin Laden. So then everything broke down. They had to change everything at CNN. They had people running in. And had I been working, I would’ve been running in that night to do interviews. I realized then, “God, I miss this.” I want to be in the hunt.
So when this opportunity came in with Ora.TV and Carlos Slim, hooking up with Hulu—it’s just a hoot to come back. I’ve been doing it for so long and I’ve never lost my curiosity. It’s great to be back.
Hulu: So when Osama bin Laden comes back, those big events, your head must be going through those same motions. You must be thinking, “I’ve gotta go to work.”
Larry: Yeah, you want to go to work. Some nights it’s approaching 6 o’clock in the pacific time zone and I want to get up and do something.
So I watch my kids play baseball. I keep active. I’ve been doing comedy specials. I’m in theaters all over America, telling stories. I’ve been speaking all over the world. I’ve been in Kazakstan, Moscow, Lisbon, Seoul. I just came back from Baku. So I’m still in the hunt. But there’s nothing like daily television.
Hulu: About that standup tour. Is there something you’ve learned from that you can translate back into the language of your show?
Larry: I’ve spoken throughout my whole career and I’ve never did a serious speech. I’ve always told stories. I like to make people laugh. I try to be funny. And there’s truly nothing like going on a stage—from Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, Vegas—of let’s say 1,000 people, cold, a microphone, and that’s it, and making people laugh. There’s nothing like it. That moment when you’re doing a punch line—it’s a high.
I’m used to it. I like communicating. I was the kind of kid who would go to a ballgame and come back and tell everybody about the game. I was the kind of kid who would run around and say, “You know what I heard today?” I’d deliver the news.
Hulu: So – Twitter.
Larry: I have 2,229,000 followers, I think. That whole world of Twittering and Tweeting and Facebook, that’s a whole wide open, new world to me.
It’s exciting! It’s the concept of tomorrow. Everybody Tweets. Nobody talks anymore. Everybody’s texting. I talked to a guy yesterday who said, “Hey, I talked to your wife yesterday!” I said, “Did she sound up tempo?” And he says, “Well, I couldn’t tell. We were texting.”
That’s one thing I don’t do: I don’t text. I like communicating. I like hearing the voice.
One advantage of texting, I think, is that you can do things you can’t do. For example, you can break up with a girl. “Goodbye.” Can’t say goodbye on a phone. It’s the world’s greatest cop-out.
Hulu: That’s a great idea.
Larry: “I can’t make it tonight.” You can get away with anything.
Hulu: Along the tech lines, tell me about Hulu. Tell me how much you know about it.
Larry: We met up with the people at Hulu and I was very impressed. It was a whole new world to me. I don’t think there’s anybody here over 30 years old. Maybe one guy is 32. But it’s a wonderful crew and it’s an exciting new venture. And I like new ventures.
I started the first syndicated radio show—a national talk show. I did for the voice of America, the first international radio talk show. The first call I did was from a farmer in China. This was 1980. I started the first cable international talk show, taking phone calls from around the world, on CNN. And now I bring that concept to Hulu.
I like being there at the beginning of things. It’s all an adventure to me. And it keeps me young.
Hulu: You’ve been shooting promos today where you’re editing videos, taking customer support calls, coding the site. So how much extensive programming experience do you have?
Larry King: None. But it’s been fun because this is all new to me. But it’s a flip here! I like the people at Hulu and it’s been fun doing these.
Hulu: I hope people come up to you and ask you to code their website now.
Larry King: I will now be a tech genius. I will know answers to all questions. Nothing will throw me. For example, I noticed when I came in here that I thought the transformer on the BB6 was a little off. And you need to correct the iPad concept that you’re using on the third floor.
Hulu: I love this.
Larry King: Anything I can do, just call me.
Hulu: Can you do home repairs as well?
Larry King: I’m Jewish. We don’t do home repair. We hire people.
Hulu: Tell me a little about these last two years that brought you here.
Larry: I’ve been active. The comedy tour has been terrific. I still have a few dates left. I have a big conference in New York for Ora.TV and Hulu. I’ll be at the Clinton Global Initiative. I’ll go to the UN in September. It’s been fun, but it’s also been missing.
Hulu: So what can we expect for the new show?
Larry: It’s what I always love to do, which is variety. I would never do just an entertainment show, just a sports show, just a political show. The bigger the mix, the better.
Hulu: So you’re allowed a lot of freedom with this show?
Larry: Oh yeah. There are almost no constrictions on the Internet. Although I’m not gonna curse. And I’ve never done a show where I refer to me. There’s never been any “I.” But I do a little in this show where I’m involved as well. I give a little opinion. I throw thoughts out, which is new to me. So it’s part of the adventure. But I never wanted to do a show where the host is more important than the guest.
Hulu: That’s one of the best things about you: You have this keen eye for what’s going to be the next thing, the next breaking idea or person. And now you can take a little bit of a risk on this show, I think.
Larry: Correct. Bill Maher used to come on my radio show when he was just touring. He’d work clubs in Washington. He used to come on my all-night Coast-to-Coast radio show where nobody knew who Bill Maher was. When I did my last show on CNN, he and Ryan Seacrest were my co-hosts that night.
Hulu: Oh! I heard that Ryan Seacrest picks out your jeans!
Larry: Well, I’ve got a couple of Ryan Seacrest stories. I met him at De Gaulle airport in Paris. He had been coming back from a cruise. I didn’t know who he was. I had not seen American Idol. This guy came over to me and said, “Oh, I’m your biggest fan. You’re my idol. And it’s very nice meeting you.”
My wife whispers to me, “That’s Ryan Seacrest!” I say, “Who’s Ryan Seacrest?” She says, “Oh, he’s the host of American Idol.” I say, “Oh, very nice to meet you.”
He says, “Is there anything I can do for you?” I say, “Yeah, can you carry my bag?”
So he carries my bag onto the plane.
Then he comes over for dinner one night. We’d become very close friends. He saw the jeans I was wearing and he says, “What are you doing?” So, since then, he’s been my jeans supplier.
Hulu: So, in a fantasy world with no impediments, give me dream guests for the show.
Larry: I’ve never done Fidel Castro. I went to Havana a couple of years ago. We met a couple of officials who were trying to get him. Ted Turner was always trying to help me get him. I’ve never met him.
I’d like to talk to Prince Charles, although I’m not a big fan of Royalty. He’s had an interesting life.
You know? I’ve thought about it. I’ve interviewed so many people. I’ve interviewed Obama a few times. I know Romney very well. I know the Vice President. Whoever Romney picks as a running mate, I will have interviewed. I know all those Senators and Governors.
I’m still curious. I’d like to meet more young recording artists, people on the scene. I’ll go to movies now and see actors and actresses on the screen that I don’t know. I’d like to get to know them. I like young people.
Hulu: You talked a little bit about Romney and Obama up there. If you could ask them one question, what would it be?
Larry: You know, I’ve never pre-thought a question. I’ve never gone on the air where I know what the question was going to be. I’ve never gone on the air and said, “Good evening,” then knew what the question was gonna be.
But what fascinates me is this: Why do you want this job?
You have more bad days than good days. The announcements you’d like to make almost never happen, which is peace. “We’ve signed the peace treaty in the Middle East!” Never happened. “We’ve cured cancer!” Big odds against that.
So mostly you’re dealing with the Congress yelling at you. There’s wildfires in Colorado. You’ve gotta fly over that. You’ve gotta spend funds on that.
I was standing with Bill Clinton once in the White House. I’ve interviewed him many times. We were looking out over Pennsylvania Avenue. It was about 10 o’clock at night. He turns to me and he says, “You know, when we’re finished, you can go out there and you can go over to Starbucks. And I can’t.”
So why do you want that job? The loneliness of it. That fascinates me. I know there’s power involved and all that. But why do you want that job when you have much more bad days than good ones?
Hulu: So that’s why you’re back to this? You’ve got the best job in the world, right?
Larry: I’ve got the best job in the world. I get to meet new people, ask them questions, and get paid for it. Who wouldn’t want that?