It looks as though I will have to act fast if I ever hope to land a spot as a guest on the Larry King show. The king of CNN has but a year left in his contract. At 76, with ratings flailing, King is no longer the thing he once was. Rumor has it that CNN is clueless about his replacement.
All lawyers like being on television. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. It's fun to plead a case before millions. I've blabbed away on many shows I admire, and some I don't: I've had a shot at 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Geraldo Rivera, Inside Edition, something or other with Sam Donaldson, and a bunch of other segments of brief notoriety. (My favorite? Diane Sawyer. She would have been dynamite in a courtroom: she has an instinctive ability to connect that is uncanny.)
But I have never done Larry King. Or, rather, King has never done me.
I suppose that is because I am decidedly uncool. King speaks with easy familiarity to and about the rich and powerful. He confers some sort of secret membership to a club I've never been invited to join merely by saying hello. Alas. I never made the list of cool kids in high school either. Come to think of it, I've never had a chance to talk to Don Imus, either.
A report in this morning's New York Times trots out names of the usual suspects as potential replacements for King: Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Piers Morgan. Even Eliot Spitzer's name has been thrown into the mix. Please, say it ain't so.
It's time for new wine. I mean Larry King didn't spring fully formed from the brow of Lord Network. King apparently got his start in decidedly inglorious surroundings. He was the color commentator for the Shreveport Steamer of the World Football League. King is an acquired taste.
I've a proposal for CNN. Break the mold. Turn your back on the established personalities and media darlings of the day. Create a new king, even as you created King.
Americans love the courts and crime. We're thrilled when a politician tumbles and is exposed as venal. Each of us is passionate about what justice requires, even if few of us agree on what is just. And we all love stories. So why not a storyteller on CNN? Someone familiar with the courts? Why not, since we won't pick one for the Supreme Court, a trial lawyer?
The great and colorful voices of King's generation are, like King, perhaps too long in the tooth to want to bite down on a new commitment. Gerry Spence is in his early 80s. F. Lee Bailey, though sharp as a tack, seems content these days to take it easy. Sure, Mickey Sherman is always available, but he is, well, Mickey Sherman. It's time for a new generation.
Oh, I know about Nancy Grace and the former blonde judge from Court TV whose name I cannot recall. But why do prosecutors and judges get to have all the fun? Who speaks for the defense on prime time? Anyone?
How creative is CNN prepared to be? Will they turn the time slot over to a trial lawyer? What not create a new star? Scott Greenfield over at Simple Justice has developed a following with a simple formula: three opinions a day, day in day out, and a web of friends and contacts stretching coast to coast. He has a distinctive voice.
Of course, if he declines, I have another candidate. He also has a voice, although not so well known. He's opinionated, brash and also loves the limelight. What's more, he's wanted to appear on King's show. C'mon, folks. Try a virtual unknown. Give me a shot. I am at least as entertaining as a color commentator for the WFL. And I cost a lot less.