If you go
Who: Larry King
When: 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22
Where; The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples
To buy: Call 239-597-1900 or click to ThePhil.org.
Larry King, the "king" of talk-show hosts, holds court in Naples for the Speaker Series at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts Sunday.
King spent a quarter of a century hosting CNN's "Larry King Live." He interviewed royalty, celebrities, politicians and newsmakers from all walks of life. Before his time at CNN, King had a nationally syndicated radio show, giving him more than 50 years in broadcasting and conducted — and more than 40,000 interviews. Some of his more famous subjects have included Marlon Brando and Mikhail Gorbachev.
This will not be the first time King has visited Naples. He lived in Miami for 20 years and came to Naples often during that time, he says. One of his children lives in nearby Tampa, so King enjoys coming to Southwest Florida, he says: coming to Naples and that it will be just like going home.
The Naples Daily News asked its own questions of the veteran interviewer before his visit here:
NDN: You have one of the most recognizable voices in the world and have used that voice for more than 50 years to enthrall listeners and viewers. What's the one constant for you in all that time?
Larry King: That was a long time ago, but my theme — my concept throughout all those years — is that I never learned anything when I was talking. I was a conduit, and the key to that, is to listen.
Truth is, I pinch myself every day because all I really wanted to do was be on radio and TV or make people laugh. I've spoken in Lisbon, Portugal, Seoul, Slovakia — all over the world, but I'm still a kid from Brooklyn and it is still shocking to me that this incredible camera has taken me where it has taken me. There is a lot of luck involved.
NDN: Is there anything you miss about leaving "Larry King Live"?
LK: I miss doing it every night but it was time to go and now I can spend time with my kids — my son who is 55, another who is son 50, my daughter and two little ones, both boys, 11 and 12.
They all get along great and the older ones have children so my little ones are uncles — it's funny to see my grandson call my 11-year old "uncle." In the beginning, I was working three jobs, and that's what I regret the most — not getting to spend as much time with my older kids, because you pay a price.
NDN: What is the one interview you regret you never got?
LK: I would have loved to have interviewed Fidel Castro. He led his country for 60 years, the longest anyone has ever led his country in modern times.
NDN: What is the one interview you regret you DID get, and why?
LK: That would have to be Robert Mitchum. I loved Robert Mitchum's work, but he drove me nuts. He only gave one-word answers!
NDN: If you're watching interview shows, who are your favorites?
LK: Sadly, Mike Wallace is off, but I like Charlie Rose and Anderson Cooper. I also like Brian Williams when he does interviews and Chris Wallace. And there are a lot I don't like. I don't like hosts who put themselves above the guest, or hosts who use the guest as a prop. The guest should be talking, and you should see how many times the host is talking as opposed to the guest.
NDN: With all the debating among presidential candidates that's going on, what questions do you think the American people should ask that they are not asking?
LK: I ask a lot of "why" questions. Why is there so much anger? Why can't we have discourse without anger and put each other down as politicians?
Hate never resolved anything. What are your qualifications? Do you understand what your role is in this job? What feelings to you have for your opponent? How do you deal with disappointment? What's the No. 1 attribute you like in people?
For example, I'm a very loyal person. I respect politicians because they face a job we don't face, and they win or lose and face that. We have ratings and they go up and down, but every politician has that Tuesday in November.
NDN: Is there anyone you wish was running for president who isn't running?
LK: Jeb Bush would have been interesting — I used to see him in Miami all the time. If the president wasn't running, I'd love to see Hillary Rodham Clinton run because she is a fascinating person, but Jeb would probably be the one to come in and bring some balance to all this.
NDN: Are there any specific topics you plan to discuss in your event at the Phil and how do you plan to enthrall an audience for an entire evening?
LK: I'll be getting on stage and telling funny stories, and the show is very theatrical with videos behind me. I used to speak all the time, and my nephew is a Broadway producer. He said to take it on tour and space your time out, and that's what I'm doing.
I'm telling my life stories and things that happened off the air, and I've never had an audience not have a good time. It's all laughs and it's great because they don't expect all this comedy.
When I was in Vegas this guy called to order tickets and he asked who the guest was that night with Larry King — he thought it might be Neil Diamond, who is a great guy, but it was just me.
NDN: Was the adjustment of leaving "Larry King Live" challenging or are you enjoying the time out of the studio?
LK: Some days when there are big stories, like when Osama got killed, I really miss it. On the other hand, on days when the only news is the Kardashians for example, I don't miss it at all.
Those days it's like watching your mother going over a cliff in your new car. That's the thing I miss the most, being in the mix. Now I'm learning everything when I get the newspaper in the morning and I used to know all of that the night before.
I used to ask former presidents if after holding office they missed it, but I am a better father now, and you gain from that.