Larry King's departure from CNN doesn't bode well for Hollywood celebs who have always looked to him when trying to burnish their images in a non-threatening setting.
King has always been able to deliver the big guests at key times, but the big reason for that is that his interviews were like big wet kisses on a national stage. King made it very clear that he prepared very little for each program and the lack of preparation was obvious even with producers piping intelligence into his ears. One accidentally great interview was with Jerry Seinfeld when King asked whatever happened to "Seinfeld," wondering if it got canceled? Seinfeld rightfully gave him an on-air chewing out that showed teeth that were always missing from King's interviews.
If there was a fight to be had, King wouldn't take it. He rarely asked the tough questions or even the semi-hard questions. He didn't invent the softball question, but he certainly perfected it. The only tough questions came during the call-in segment of the show. King admitted it wasn't journalism. It was some sort of entertainment hybrid. And occasionally it was entertaining.
The baddest of the bad could appear on the show, and the worst they would get would be an accidental slap on the wrist from King. Chris Brown could be assured he would never take even a remote grilling when he needed to come clean about Rihanna. Papa Joe Jackson felt so comfortable on the show he memorably took a cell phone call on the air. Carrie Prejean might be the only celeb to ever find something remotely offensive in King's feeble probing. She inexplicably left the show on-air after a pretty basic question that a real interviewer would have used a a warm-up act.
"Larry King Live" was safe harbor for everyone else. Whoever takes over his chair may not be such a pushover.