Five decades and 50,000 interviews after he first jabbed a microphone into a surprised pop singer's face at a Miami Beach diner, Larry King is hanging up his suspenders. His Thursday night show on CNN will be the last of a broadcast career that eternally careened between pinnacles of wild success and pits of utter catastrophe.
King and his producers are being uncharacteristically tight-lipped about who will appear on the final edition of Larry King Live, which airs at 9 p.m. Comedian Bill Maher and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will be at King's Hollywood studio -- but 14 mystery guests will also beam in from around the world via satellite.
Could President Barack Obama be among them? He's already shared a microphone with King, as has every American president since Richard Nixon. O.J. Simpson? King's mile-by-mile coverage of Simpson's 1994 slow-motion car chase by Los Angeles police inaugurated the age of crime as entertainment. LeBron James? Bill Gates? Lady Gaga? They've all been chatted up on the nightly show.
Or could the legendary allure of appearing on King's program -- which has survived the nose-dive of his Nielsen ratings even if the show itself hasn't -- even draw guests from the other end of this mortal coil?
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