Piers Morgan on his first CNN program last night got a lot of advance hype for getting Oprah Winfrey to admit to gorging on 30 pounds of mac and cheese after “Beloved” failed in 1998.
Did he live up to the hype last night? It was probably a losing battle on that front. Oddly, that mac and cheese anecdote didn’t even make the final cut. (Still, he pulled in 2.1 million viewers, a big number for CNN but short of what Fox News’ Sean Hannity got at 2.37 million.)
Oprah has already revealed as much as she’s wanted to reveal on her show or to Barbara Walters. It was unlikely Piers was going to get much new out of her. And he didn’t. But it was a pleasant conversation nonetheless. He was respectful, not too hard hitting, calling her royalty and “America’s therapist.” He did ask her some interesting questions such as “Do you like being famous?” or “How many times have you been properly in love?”
“That’s a good question,” Oprah said. “Do you mean properly, is it real love?”
She said her heart was broken twice but she wouldn’t say who.
She also avoided certain questions deftly.
“I have addressed it and am never going to go there again,” she said, about the lesbian rumors with Gayle King.
In the end, he is clearly a likable interviewer who is capable of doing this day in and day out in a style far different from Larry King.
Tonight’s interview with Howard Stern should be a lot of fun.
Here are some excerpts of reviews:
Morgan showed himself to be a serious, well-prepared interviewer, considerably more linear than his predecessor While he’s spent most of his career in his native Britain, he’s got a profile here, and some number of people will watch anything Oprah.But that didn’t add up to much of a fresh takeaway last night. Through no fault of Morgan’s, Oprah doesn’t have a lot of “I didn’t know that” moments left.
Piers Morgan and Oprah Winfrey pretended they really liked each other while grappling to seize control of the debut of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” Tuesday night.
Just to state the obvious, Winfrey is nothing if not media-savvy, so she knew exactly which questions Morgan would ask, and she was prepared to head them off at the pass. As a result, the interaction was more like a meta-interview about celebrity journalism. Winfrey repeatedly said things like, “That’s such an old story, Piers,” and “I knew you were going to go there sooner or later.” The implied message from Winfrey? “I’ll cry for Barbara Walters but not for you.” At times, Winfrey seemed a smidge exasperated with her interlocutor. One wonders if she’d have sat down with Morgan if she didn’t have a brand-new cable network to promote; I’m guessing not.
Some of Morgan’s best moments came in his flirty, sparring banter. When Winfrey bridled (lightly) at the idea that she had used a “stunt” on her Australia trip, Morgan dryly demurred, smiling, “Of course not. I mean, perish the thought.” When Winfrey deflected a question about how much money she had, Morgan asserted, “I bet you know exactly how much you’re worth,” a statement that seemed less aimed at eliciting an answer than sending a message—I’ve got you figured out, you and I both know how these things work—and thus showing the home audience his savvy and worldliness, not a bad goal for a first night.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog