Perhaps you’ve heard: Piers Morgan debuted on CNN last night.
One wonders if, after the enormous hype there was any way for Piers to live up to it and the answer is he seems to have done OK.
There is also the question of whether last night’s premiere interview with Oprah Winfrey is the best way to judge what Pier’s program will offer — namely because it was taped out of the studio and had (as Daily Intel noted) a sort of Barbara Walters Most Interesting Person feel to it.
That said, I thought the tone of the interview was, if not hard-hitting, definitely appealing, especially in comparison to the tone of most of the other discussions going on on cable at that hour. And one suspects that as the nation tires of the political bickering that makes up much of the cablesphere’s programming Piers will provide a charming alternative.
The ratings for the night have yet to come in, but not the reviews! Here’s a quick round-up.
Alessandra Stanley [NYT]: Mr. Morgan, who seems so bold and confident as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” was probably too timid. It would have been smarter to hold off on Ms. Winfrey and move up his interview with Ricky Gervais…But the plus side of his downer of a first day is that he has nowhere to go but up. Mr. Morgan, who in Britain is known as a resourceful interviewer, will undoubtedly loosen up across the table from Mr. Gervais, George Clooney and Howard Stern later this week at 9 p.m.
James Poniewozik [Time]: Relieved of the expectation that he would prize anything earth-shattering from her, Morgan could use the interview to tell America something about himself. Which was? As an interviewer, Morgan was cheeky, flirtatious, flattering and playful, sometimes dryly teasing, sometimes fawning, occasionally cleverly probing. As a host? The first night of PMT didn’t give us much to go on.
Chris Rovzar [Daily Intel]: Piers’s final plea was, “How did I do?” It was the first time he’d asked it explicitly, but it seemed like the whole interview was about seeking Oprah’s approval. He constantly asked how it was going, and backed off easily when Oprah rebuffed him — never pushing for something deeper or truer from the gifted talker….It wasn’t all bad, though. There were signs of life in his interviewing style. He asked questions that real people would want to ask Oprah, even though she’d been asked many of them before. Questions like “Do you feel regal?” and “Do you like being famous?” provoked interesting answers. Likewise, “How many times have you been properly in love?” Her painful story of going to live with her father as a secretly pregnant 14-year-old felt poignant and honest.
Dylan Stableford [The Wrap]: The questions that were raised in July at the time of Morgan’s hire remain: Morgan is a household name in Britain, but he has never headlined his own show here in the states. Going with an unproven talent at such a pivotal moment for a cable network that has seen its other new primetime show — “Parker Spitzer” — struggle mightily is a high-stakes gamble…That’s not to say the show is doomed. Morgan is likable, and seems to have a knack for conversation, moreso than King’s, uh, blunt style…But the success or failure of Piers on CNN is going to depend on the quality of his guests — and whether or not they’re willing to play ball.
Ken Tucker [Entertainment Tonight]: The America’s Got Talent judge has a bit of a doughy face and a small mouth (this is what happens when you host a talk show with at least as many close-ups on you as on your guest — people look more closely at you), and his clever-schoolboy demeanor serves him well….As for whether the “new boy” is a worthy replacement for Larry King… come on, you didn’t watch Larry King Live, did you? Simply by having facts about his subject at hand and speaking coherently, Morgan aced King on his opening night. I’m looking forward to seeing him interview Howard Stern tomorrow night.
Linda Stasi [NYPost]: So — to paraphrase Piers’ own question to Oprah at the end of the hour-long premiere — how’d he do?He did surprisingly, charmingly well — after a slow and shaky start that was full of “you’re good,” “no you’re good” flattery that was as unnecessary as Larry King’s microphone from 1955.
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