On his "live" radio show this morning, Howard Stern said his interview with Piers Morgan was "heavily edited." It aired last night on Morgan's new CNN show, filling the 9 pm slot that formerly was Larry King Live. Stern said they shot for two hours, it was cut down to one hour, and Morgan edited out parts that included some of Stern's comments about David Letterman, Larry King, President Obama.
I knew it wasn't live, but the heavy editing explains why it came across like every other interview program. It was lifted up only by the presence of Stern who, most of all, is comfortable in his skin and can run laps around an apparent lightweight like Morgan.
To maintain the franchise CNN needs to produce that show live. If Morgan can't handle a live interview, they should replace him with someone who can. If the guests balk at going live -- they didn't with Larry -- the producers have to deal with that. If they leave it as it is, the program will be special only when the guest is special, and special guests can't be counted on five nights of the week. The host has to have the dynamite skill and talent to carry the day when the interviews are with regular folks about the day's headlines. Can Piers Morgan do that? Can he ride the winds of what's happening in the world? Or is he a red carpet interviewer placed in the wrong chair?
Edited interviews generally suck. They are manufactured. My show isn't live, but it is live on tape. We don't edit the content. If I mess up, make a fool of myself, or lose my train of thought, its there for the viewer to experience, as if in the room. If the guest says something awkward, unflattering to me, or controversial, it doesn't get snipped out. It stays in the show.
Spontaneous, live interviews are what Ted Koppel did masterfully on Nightline, what happens on most of the Sunday shows, and what distinguished Larry King Live.
CNN is lost. Should someone remind the bosses that the letters stand for Cable NEWS Network?