Larry King Signs Off CNN

Larry King is seen on the set of the final broadcast ... Reuters

Larry King knew his final CNN TV show was coming. But still, he says it was hard to say “Good evening, and welcome to the last `Larry King Live.”‘

After 25 years, his final show was last night. He was joined by two guys who have filled in for him in the past: Ryan Seacrest and Bill Maher.

Maher wanted to make sure the final show was upbeat. So, he reminded people “this is the end of a show, not the end of a man.”

Larry King’s first guest last night was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared it was “Larry King Day” in California. Then, a parade of people stopped by, including Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Brian Williams. They were in CNN’s New York studio, while Larry King was in Los Angeles.

President Barack Obama delivered a taped message, and former President Bill Clinton made his 29th appearance on the show, via remote from Arkansas. Tony Bennett sang. And, Fred Armisen did a King impersonation and was interviewed in character by King. So, it was Larry interviewing Larry.

King had announced this summer he would leave, ushered out by a struggling network. Once the dominant voice in cable television news, King has faded in a sea of sharp talkers. British talk-show host and “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan takes over the 9 p.m. Eastern time slot in January.

Except for an agreement to host four specials a year at CNN, it’s not clear what his work future holds. He’s talked of doing comedy, or going back to some radio work.

The Nielsen Co. said Friday that an estimated 2.24 million people watched the last episode of “Larry King Live.” He beat the usual leader in cable news during that time slot, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, who had 2.16 million viewers.

King had been averaging 672,000 viewers a night this year, typically third in his time slot behind Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — and sometimes even fourth behind HLN’s Joy Behar.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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