Piers Morgan scored his big interview with Oprah Winfrey the obvious way – “I wooed Gayle King!”
The tabloid reporter and “America’s Got Talent” host spent six weeks emailing with Oprah’s best friend before the media queen agreed to be the first guest on his new CNN talk show, “Piers Morgan Tonight.”
“We talk about it on the air,” Morgan tells us. “She says ‘I am only doing this because Gayle told me to.’”
Here’s what else the outspoken Brit had to share when we caught up Thursday in Los Angeles:
You have been picking a lot of fights lately. Is that just a way to generate publicity for your show?
Probably. It’s working, right (laughs)? Look, I don’t think you need to take these things too seriously. I want to have fun on CNN. Maybe the one thing CNN has definitely not had a lot of in recent years is fun. What you definitely get on Fox and MSNBC in that time slot is lots of fun. Bill O’Reilly is a laugh. Glenn Beck is quite funny.
How many interviews have you banked so far?
We have done two so far. By the time we go on the air, we will have about six. The reason is simply that the studio is not ready yet. And we knew that from the start. It takes about three months to make them right. The first studio show will be the tenth of January in New York.
Can you reveal the second guest?
No. I would have to kill you.
How come you didn’t appear on Larry King’s last show so he could pass the baton?
We were going to do it, but we couldn’t get it to work with our schedules. Unfortunately I had to go back to Britain during his final week. So I couldn’t do it. But I am hoping to get Larry on. He would be a great interview. Larry has been nothing but gracious to me.
What would you ask him?
Where do you start? 40,000 interviews. Eight wives. (laughs)
Larry always took pride in the fact that he didn’t do much preparation for interviews. How much prep do you do?
Probably too much. (laughs) Because of my journalistic background, I like to immerse myself in their world. For Oprah, I spent a week just reading and watching every interview she has done for the last 15 years. Wherever she goes, I know a) is it fresh and b) is she likely to show some emotion here: laughter, anger… I try to get inside their heads.
Do you feel helped or handicapped by taking over Larry’s time slot?
People say to me, “what is it like following Larry King?” I say “it must be like the guy who followed Frank Sinatra in Vegas.” I feel like that guy. We never heard from him again. Somebody wrote to me and said: “You know who it was? Elvis!”
What did you ask Oprah that you don’t think she was asked before?
The key thing I asked her, which really took her by surprise because she had never been asked this before, was: “How many times have you properly been in love? Where your heart aches and breaks?” And her answer was fantastic.
“Piers Morgan Tonight” debuts on CNN Jan. 17 at 9/8c.