Being interviewed by Larry King might be nice, but Judge Katie Herrell is hoping her first time is with Tucker Carlson.
"Featuring over 300 of Larry's most amazing guests."
Larry King as you've seldom seen him—standing. Commonly clad in ratty jeans under the table, King dons slacks for a trip through his favorite interviews over the last 50 years. At times that journey is laborious, at times illuminating, but much like the actual show the prowess of the interview seems to depend little upon the placid interviewer. But it must, mustn't it?
Facts of the Case
Larry King Live: The Greatest Interviews is a three-disc compendium of excerpts from King's long, storied, and still ongoing career. The three discs are divided between "Hollywood Film Stars & Legends," "Presidents & First Ladies, News Events & Scandals," and "Television Stars, Broadcast News, Icons, Comedians, & Unforgettable Moments."
Disc One, "Hollywood Film Stars & Legends," is introduced by King, which I saw as a good sign that Warner Bros. had King's support on the project, and it wasn't just an attempt to profit off of his successes. As it turns out, King introduces every disc and segment, so he was definitely involved. Although maybe not with the background music. The opening featured the popular "Here it Goes Again" (The Treadmill Song) by Ok Go, a song thrust into pop culture by the group's taxing treadmill music video. Judging by King's iconic, yet archaic, glasses and suspenders, OK Go is not on his iPod.
"Hollywood" features the likes of Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, and all the big hitters past and present. But to be honest, it's a bore. The segments are extremely short and grouped together by various commonplace topics such as big breaks, tabloids, romance, etc. The biggest shock was seeing an immense Marlon Brando propping his lower-half up on a tiny footstool; it was not a flattering shot and likely not featured during the original showing of the interview. Elizabeth Taylor didn't disappoint, but the woman came equipped with stories of "seeing the light" and a diamond four-square box on her finger. King's background set is a little natty, staged, and overly blue for my taste. That's not necessarily a reflection of the DVD set, but rather of his CNN show.
The second disc, "Presidents & First Ladies, News Events & Scandals," is much more interesting. King has a knack for asking questions that seem obvious, but bear extreme weight; questions such as, "How did it feel to get shot?" posed to former President Reagan, and "What does it feel like to have your name on buildings?" asked of the first President Bush. In a way, the questions are elementary, but also insightful. The simple questioning seems to put his interviewee at ease, so the answers offered are much more candid and honest.
The "News Events" portion covered 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Di, and other major news events. The excerpt about JFK Jr.'s death was really just a re-playing of an old interview with the younger Kennedy, which was a bit odd. King seems much more comfortable interviewing celebrities than he does in covering national disasters. His introductions of major events were presented in the same even, non-plussed voice that any other of his evening shows might be. He asked one poor woman, clutching photos of her missing loved ones after Hurricane Katrina, "Why didn't they evacuate?" His tone was harsh and the woman began to cry. This was one simple question that didn't need asking, because they were still missing, and the answer didn't matter. Hidden in the "Bonus Material" of Disc Two is a section titled "World Leaders," which may be illustrative of King's priorities.
The third disc, "Television Stars, Broadcast News, Icons, Comedians, & Unforgettable Moments," is nowhere as segmented as Disc One, and ten times more entertaining. It was amazing to see the comparison between the interview habits of television and movie stars. The television actors are much more comfortable with the impromptu give and take of a an interview. On the whole, these interviews were more candid, witty, relaxed, and funny than the ones with suspicious and overly poised movie actors. I found the interview with Bill Cosby particularly endearing, even as he was talking about the burial of his son, Ennis.
The King show is particularly entertaining when he interviews a group of people at once, such as the cast of Will & Grace. In these instances, the interviewees play off of each other—and King—transforming the show's usually staid format. At the end of Disc Three in the bonus materials' "Larry's Stories : Comedians," Larry sits by himself, center stage, reminiscing with the camera about all the funny moments he's had over the years. It is here where Larry's radio roots come out, because the man cracks himself up again and again and just keeps talking and talking and talking.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
550 minutes of Larry King. I know it's 50 years worth of material, and Happy Anniversary and all, but come on Larry, edit.
There's a whole lot of history here. It's a great journey through the people and the events that have defined the U.S. over the last five decades.
Not guilty…although 300 might be an understatement.
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