Jan 18, 2011

Ask and you shall receive

James Wolcott takes the measure of Piers Morgan

"the throbbingly virile replacement who intends to snap Larry King's suspenders with one flex of his Superman chest. In his first week of CNN celebrity interviews (all of them pre-taped for that special tin-can freshness), he reportedly asks what it would take hypothetically for a man to seduce her, which won't do much for the dead children of Iraq, but is what the late Phil Hartman would call quite "a splash of sassy." Unlike King, who hung upside down from the ceiling in the studio suspended in cobwebs like Spiderman's uncle, Morgan is leaning forward in the motorcycle as he races through the first weeks of meetings and tapings like a man possessed, alloted only fifteen minutes to shower before a GQ party by his whiplash assistant."

Morgan, who seems to have been advertising his show for most of the last year, was just on The Situation Room ('on' or 'in'?) bragging to Wolf Blitzer about his first big interview, Oprah Winfrey, whom he managed to open up about her teenage suicide attempt. Blitzer pretended to be impressed. Ah yes, that Salingeresque recluse Oprah Winfrey, so sparing with her personal details, a veritable Garbo of clam-tight reserve. How will he crack this nut? Deadline Hollywood:—

"After months of hyping his provocative style, Morgan spent the hour worshiping at the church of Oprah, calling her queen/American royalty, the most powerful woman in America, world's most famous interviewer, etc. and throwing mostly soft-ball questions at her. Morgan was also hurt by the long time gap between the taping of the interview at the very beginning of the year and its air date. Winfrey had since appeared publicly at other places, including before the TV critics as part of her new cable network OWN's portion of the winter TV Critics Assn.'s press tour. In fact, whole segments from Morgan's interview, including the first 10 minutes, were exact replicas of Winfrey's TCA session, with Winfrey repeating some of her answers almost verbatim."

In this, at least, he is a worthy successor to King who specialised in giving publicity to those brave souls who summoned the temerity to ask for it.

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