Larry King, the iconic TV interviewer, will step aside from hosting of his prime time CNN show later this year, he said Tuesday.
King, 76, made the announcement with a short posting to his Twitter account, citing his desire to spend more time with his wife and young children.
“I want to share some personal news with you. 25 years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games,” King wrote.
“I’m incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I’m looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.”
“He will end his run with Larry King Live on his own terms, sometime this fall,” said Jon Klein, president of CNNUS. “Larry is a beloved member of the CNN family and will continue to contribute to our air with periodic specials.”
During his Tuesday night show, King told guest Bill Maher “there’s a freedom” that came with his decision.
“I want to expand,” King told the comedian. “I want to do other things that I haven’t been able to do.”
The idea to step aside came to him after he completed his week-long 25th anniversary celebration, he said.
“I’m thinking to myself, I’ve done 50,000 interviews,” he said. “I’m never going to top this.”
King said he would exit the host’s chair “maximum November.” But, he told Maher, “Then I’ll be doing specials. You’ll see me in other places.”
Asked whom he wants to replace him, King cited “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest. “He’s curious, he’s interesting, he’s likable,” King said. “If he has a great interest in politics, I would recommend him. But I’m sure there’s a ton of people who could do it. Come on. It’s Q and A.”
“It’s not easy,” Maher responded. “That’s the trick.”
In a telephone call to the program, former first lady Nancy Reagan told King, “I couldn’t let you do this without my calling you. You didn’t call me and ask my permission.”
King said he had made no plans about his future, but added, “I’m looking forward — I feel open to so many things. Life will be better.”
ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer chimed in: “I just want to say, Larry, what a monument of vitality you have built for all of us and I cannot wait to see your specials because everybody in the world wants to talk to you and to see you do them in a concentrated way — when you choose to do them it’s going to be a thrill.”
King’s decision followed months of media speculation about his future as his ratings declined.
King was hosting a nationally syndicated overnight radio talk show when CNN founder Ted Turner persuaded him in 1985 to try his interviewing skills on cable TV.
“All I had to do was everything I’d been doing since I was a kid,” he wrote in his best-selling 2009 autobiography, “My Remarkable Journey.”