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'Creaky and Leaky'

That's how critic Tom Shales describes Larry King—the show, not the host.

12:40 PM, Apr 21, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Washington Post television critic Tom Shales feels bad for Larry King. The columnist's sources tell him CNN executives will try to ease out the talk show host the way network executives always do: ruthlessly, without regard for the past, but with kind words to say at the same time. Nevertheless, Shales lets the zingers fly:

"Respected U.S. newsman Larry King has filed for divorce from his country-singer wife, Shawn Southwick," the wire service story says dryly. It seems simple enough until you stop to wonder: Is "respected U.S. newsman Larry King" any relation to that guy who has a weeknight talk show on CNN?... King married the much-younger Southwick, according to published accounts, "in a hospital room in 1997 shortly before surgery to clear a clogged blood vessel." There's our Larry in a capsule—spirit willing, flesh being patched up and sort of digitally remastered, like an old classic movie.... King's supporters point out that he is a victim to some degree of terrible lead-ins, perhaps the worst ever. "John King" at 7 p.m. is attracting "only friends and relatives," says one producer....

The bottom line is that King's ratings are down significantly on a network whose programming sometimes lags behind Headline News, "the little CNN spinoff for people with smaller attention spans than a hummingbird." According to Shales, "CNN higher-ups have hardly been conspicuous in defending and praising King on the record so as to soften the blow of the current ratings decline. Some see King as, in effect, having been hung out to dry or even, in a professional competitive sense, hung out to die."

I am reminded of Henry Hill's line in Goodfellas (based on the book Wiseguy): "Your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you're at your weakest and most in need of their help." Such as in the midst of your eighth divorce.

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