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Larry King has been with CNN for 25 years -- and, like all of King's eight marriages, the relationship is beginning to get tedious. New York Times columnist David Carr points out that King's ratings have been steadily slipping, while his interview style has become increasingly lazy; he couldn't even get a good quote out of someone who usually gives a shocking soundbite to any mic within reach -- Lady Gaga. Even if CNN hangs on to the 76-year-old host for a few more years, they've surely got to be planning for a replacement. The lead contender at the moment is rumored to be America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan. But we'd like to humbly suggest a very different TV personality to fill King's shoes: The View's Joy Behar.
Behar, who looks amazing at 67, entered the cable-talk arena in September 2009 with The Joy Behar Show, airing nightly on CNN's sister network, HLN. Although she's been on for less than a year, Behar has already bested King in the ratings several times. As an interviewer, she often channels Larry King at his best: she loves asking tough questions, is opinionated but not polarizing, and has enough charm to put even reluctant guests at ease.
And the bonus is that Behar is funny. Sometimes groaner-funny like Jay Leno, sometimes oh snap! funny like Jon Stewart -- but indisputably funnier than Larry King. And that's a quality that's increasingly valued by audiences, who clearly prefer their news commentary accompanied by the likes of Sean Hannity's smug comebacks, Rachel Maddow's dry witticisms, and Stephen Colbert's spoofy sarcasm. Even more importantly, Behar actually listens to her guests -- a quality that should be a given in talk-show hosts, but sometimes isn't. As a result, she's great at getting people to engage, to spar, to defend their positions. All of which makes for great TV.
As an example, check out Behar's recent interview with Bethenny Frankel, in which the host refuses to let up about the reality star's controversial postpartum weight-loss claims.
Our cynical side fears that Behar may not get the gig because she's a woman, and too many viewers -- or network executives -- expect news-themed broadcasts to be hosted by men. (Witness the issues Katie Couric has faced on the evening news.) But although Larry King has become a CNN institution over the years, he started out as a sportscaster and a radio personality, not a journalist. Behar's background as a comedienne and morning chat-show host easily matches King's qualifications. And she's proven that she can hold her own subbing for King; go here for a play-by-play of her fantastic Larry King Live interview with Ann Coulter.
We'd love for Joy Behar to get a permanent seat in front of Larry King's famous light-up map. But Joy, if you do get the gig, we'd advise you to stay single; we hear the job is hell on a marriage.
Do you think Joy Behar should replace Larry King? Chime in below!