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King to Hang Up Suspenders; Calls Seacrest "Interesting, Likable"

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Jun 30, 2010 | 3:22am EDT

Larry KingOn Tuesday, CNN President Jonathan Klein informed employees that Larry King would announce his decision to leave Larry King Live on yesterday's show after 25 years. In a memo, Klein said, "Larry has decided to take a step back from the nightly grind. He wants to take some time for himself and his family. So he will end his run with Larry King Live on his own terms, sometime this fall."

King is not leaving CNN, however. He noted on his show that he intends to continue with the network in some fashion.

Speculation has been high that King would depart, with Britain's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan rumored to be one possible replacement. CNN said it would announce plans for the 9 p.m. hour in the coming weeks.

King himself has mentioned Ryan Seacrest and Keith Olbermann as worthy replacements.

On Tuesday's show, he told Bill Maher of Seacrest, "He's curious, he's interesting, he's likable. If he has a great interest in politics, I would recommend him. But I'm sure there's a ton of people who could do it. Come on, it's Q&A."

King said he began thinking about stepping down as his 25th anniversary week ended earlier this month.

According to The Los Angeles Times, King was flying back to Los Angeles after interviewing basketball superstar LeBron James in Ohio earlier this month when it hit him. "I said, 'I can't top this,' " King told the LAT. "I'm not getting younger. I want more time with other things. It's time to go."

King's decision comes as the network has suffered a steep falloff in the ratings this year and is battling the perception that it has lost its potency. Larry King Live was the network's top-rated show for years, but the program's audience declined sharply this year, the LAT notes.

"I swear to God, they never pressured me," King told the LAT regarding CNN. "I do believe it's cyclical. Ten years from today, there will be another young Larry King, John Jones or something, and he's going to do an interview show, he's going to take calls, he's going to be No. 1, and they'll be saying, 'What happened to those other shows, where the guys are on soapboxes? Ah, that's passé.' "

In recent months, King's marriage to Shawn Southwick has hit the rocks with the couple saying they would be divorcing, but about a month later, the two decided to reunite and work on their problems.

CNN insiders told The Wrap that King’s "messy" personal life is the primary factor behind his decision to leave.

Via Twitter, King said yesterday, "It's time to hang up my nightly suspenders."

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