Piers Morgan Gives Himself a B+ So Far, Says He Wants 'Mesmeric' Sarah Palin
By Nicki Gostin Posted Feb 11th 2011 02:25PM
Piers Morgan has taken over Larry King's perch at CNN, and already he's wiped away the cobwebs and brought a welcome breath of fresh air to the hour. 'Piers Morgan Tonight' started off with a bang: an interview with Oprah. And although he's had a couple of missteps (hello, Kim and Kourtney), he's clearly found his groove, especially during the current uprisings in Egypt. The British ex-tabloid newspaper editor has an acerbic wit and keen intelligence that shines through. He spoke to PopEater about how he thinks he's doing, his assessment of the cult of Sarah Palin, whom he hopes to interview and his royalty-tinged "feud" with Howard Stern.
So how is it going so far?
I think I'm fitting in pretty well actually for a Brit in New York. We're a month in, and it's been a pretty eventful, varied month. We obviously had a big launch with a week of pre-taped interviews, and last week we had a whole live week of shows. It's been a test of all my abilities as an interviewer, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
So what do you give yourself, A+?
I feel like B+. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves here. It's been a very solid start with lots of variety. Some of them weren't so great. The thing is about this show is that it evolves all the time. My main objective is to show people the range I've got.
Who hasn't been so great?
It wasn't the guests so much. It was the ratings. It's pretty well known that the show with the Kardashian sisters didn't rate very well, but I enjoyed doing it.
Oprah was a dream guest, and it got realized. Not only did I have a great interview with her but then I went on her show which was even more exciting. My love affair with Oprah knows no bounds. I think the president would be great. My personal celebrity would be Jack Nicholson, and then there are the important guests like Queen Elizabeth. Imagine that interview before the royal wedding.
The Queen doesn't do interviews.
I've actually met the Queen five times, and the last time I met her we talked about David Beckham's broken foot, so she and I have quite a rapport going. I think I've got a five times better chance of getting her than most American interviewers. I always think you should reach for the stars, and if you have to come down, come down.
Were you on Team Diana or Team Charles?
I was kind of in the middle. I've always liked Charles. He just doesn't tolerate things the way other people do. He has a very low tolerance of what he thinks is wrong. I certainly like Camilla very much. The few times I've met her, we've always gotten along very well. I'm good friends with her son Tom who is a decent guy. I see him a lot. I had a good relationship with Diana. I went for lunch to Kensington Palace with her and William. She used to ring me when I worked at the Daily Mirror from time to time. Obviously her death was a terrible tragedy for the country. I think it's great we've got the royal wedding to have something positive to come from all that.
I assume you would want Sarah Palin on your show?
I would love to.
Do you think she's idiotic or smart?
I think when you look afar at her early performances when she first exploded and gave her fairly catastrophic interviews to CBS, everyone assumed she was an idiot. What you have certainly got to accept now is that she's a massively polarizing politician, but she's certainly not an idiot. She's very smartly improved her position with her base. She's probably the most famous politician after Obama in the country. She has a huge following. She's very active on social media and very successful at it, and she's a force to be reckoned with. I think she's probably learned some lessons from early on, doesn't give many interviews now, but one thing she's not is an idiot.
Do you think if she was unattractive she would be as popular?
Well, ugly politicians never get the same following as hot politicians, do they? Also we're not talking supermodel here.
For a politician she's very attractive.
I don't think it's that. I think her personality is mesmeric. I think she's not unattractive, but it's that forceful personality that people like. Whether you agree with her or not, she's resourceful, energetic, hard working, she's a good family person, these are all boxes that resonate with a lot of Americans.
You used to be the editor of a British tabloid newspaper. Has the tabloid culture become even more dominant?
I think it's more an Internet-driven culture actually. I think the fact is everyone who's online right now can just sate their lust for information about anything at the speed of a button. That's just led to an explosion of interest on everything. There are more celebrities now because there's reality TV, and there's certainly a lot more people being famous for just being famous, and that's pretty depressing.
Your wife lives in London. How do you keep the romance alive?
She says that's exactly how we keep the romance alive. She resides 5,000 miles away, and that keeps it very much alive. We see each other quite regularly. I'm not living in Timbuktu. I can get home quicker to London that I can to Los Angeles.
I know you banned Madonna. Who else is banned?
Heather Mills because I introduced her to Paul McCartney. I'm a huge Beatles fan, and it cost him $50 million, and it kind of ruined my relationship with my hero, so it's the least I can do. I think she is a bit of a chameleon figure. You can easily get sucked into thinking Heather Mills is a lovely human being, and then the more you find out about her, the more the gloss falls off.
What's the deal between you and Howard Stern?
He says he's the King of All Media. When I asked him who elected him he said that he did. So I said, "Well I'm airing in 220 countries. You're the King of all Media in America, but I would argue that my reach means I can be called the King of all Global Media," but he's taking exception to this. I think he's a bit perplexed that anyone would even try to challenge him as if somehow he's unassuming, and as I've tried to point out, even the Roman Empire came crashing down. I love Howard; I'm one of his biggest fans. I don't think you can appoint yourself king and not accept someone to come along and try and topple your crown.
You know he was kidding with that title right?
Maybe I am too! I'm not actually going to behead Howard Stern. It's not medieval days.
Do you find American celebs don't get your sense of humor? Do they think you're being mean?
The great thing about Brits is you literally cannot offend them. We have a weird, very sarcastic sense of humor based on focusing on our limitations whereas Americans aren't like that. They prefer to be nice to each other and talk about how wonderful everything is.
Piers Morgan Snapshots
Piers Morgan, Harvey Weinstein and director Tom Hooper attend a luncheon to honor 'The King's Speech' at an NYC club on Jan. 10. More Piers Pics >>
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