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Piers Morgan's choice for 1st interview: Larry King

From Kareen Wynter and Alan Duke, CNN
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Morgan: Show 'biggest thrill of my life'
  • NEW: Morgan says he'd like to have Larry King as his first interview
  • Morgan "made his name posing tough questions to public figures," CNN-US chief says
  • He has been a judge on "America's Got Talent" and "Britain's Got Talent"

(CNN) -- British TV host Piers Morgan said taking over for retiring Larry King is like replacing Frank Sinatra's Las Vegas show.

"How can you follow a legend like that?" Morgan said after news that he will take over Larry King's prime-time hour starting January. "And then you think what a challenge, what an honor to be able to fill the shoes of someone like Larry King -- for me as a TV interviewer, which is primarily what I do back in England. I have watched him over the last 25 years interviewing the most interesting people in the world and to be ... without a doubt the most famous TV interviewer in TV history."

Morgan will replace King's longtime show with "a candid, in-depth newsmaker interview program," CNN announced Wednesday.

Morgan, best known to American viewers as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent," has most recently hosted "Piers Morgan's Life Stories" on television in the United Kingdom.

Video: Larry King welcomes Piers Morgan to CNN
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"Piers has made his name posing tough questions to public figures, holding them accountable for their words and deeds," said CNN-US President Jon Klein. "He is able to look at all aspects of the news with style and humor with an occasional good laugh in the process."

Morgan's show, which was not named in the CNN news release, will air live on CNN-US at 9 p.m. ET and will air worldwide on CNN-International in more than 200 countries, the network said.

Morgan will be based in New York, but also will work from Los Angeles and London, CNN said.

Morgan named Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin as some people he'd like to interview. But whom would he want for his first interview?"

"Larry King would be it," Morgan said. "He knows everybody. I find him fascinating. He has an amazing recall for people and events. I love his enthusiasm."

King announced this summer that he was stepping aside from CNN's "Larry King Live," a show he began hosting in 1985.

Morgan, 45, began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter in the United Kingdom for The Wimbledon News. In 1994, when he was 28, Morgan became the youngest editor ever at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. He moved to the Daily Mirror as editor-in-chief in 1995, a post he held for nine years.

He left the Mirror under a cloud of controversy in 2004, after the publication of photos purported to be of abused Iraqi prisoners. The newspaper later acknowledged the images were faked, saying it was the victim of a hoax.

Morgan went on to become a television personality, hosting interview programs on the BBC and ITV. Simon Cowell hired Morgan as a judge on the top-rated "Britain's Got Talent."

His print journalism career continued beyond the Mirror, including a monthly interview column for GQ magazine.

Morgan also writes two regular columns for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, which he will continue. In addition, he will provide regular columns to, the network said.