CNN's Designated Sitter: Bob Costas To Be Larry King's Regular Guest Host

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, June 9, 2005

Bob Costas will become the regular substitute host on CNN's "Larry King Live," the cable news network announced yesterday.

Expect to see Costas filling in about 20 times a year on the prime-time show; his first appearance is scheduled for Sunday.

Both Costas and CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein denied that this makes Costas the heir apparent to King on CNN's most watched program. King, 71, celebrated his 20th anniversary at the helm of the daily interview show last week.

"People will speculate about what they want, but that is not my intention," Costas, 53, told The TV Column, adding that he intends only to "do this and do it well and have a good time" and that he's "always liked the long-form interview format."

Costas hosted NBC's late-night talk show "Later With Bob Costas" for six years. (He also has been the prime-time host of NBC's Olympics coverage and covered many other sports events during his more than two decades at the broadcast network.)

The idea for the guest-hosting gig was HBO's, Klein told The TV Column. Costas hosts HBO Sports's monthly newsmagazine "Costas Now," and during football season he co-hosts "Inside the NFL" for the pay cable network, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.

"The guys at HBO told us he had always been interested in this kind of thing and once we heard that we really pounced," Klein said.

That said, he insisted this was "not some effort at massive corporate synergy; it so happened that our friends at HBO work with Bob and knew of his interest."

Without HBO's blessing, Costas said, "this couldn't have happened."

Costas's guest-hosting appearances won't be on a set schedule, Klein explained. "Larry's vacation days . . . are very haphazard; he much prefers to work," Klein said, adding, "We'll always turn to Bob first as the main substitute host."

(Nancy Grace, the "Larry King Live" contributor who also used to sub for King, is now locked and loaded on CNN Headline News and has her afternoon show on Court TV.)

This calendar year, "Larry King Live" has averaged about 1.2 million viewers, but in May King's average dipped below 1 million, marking one of his least watched months of the past four years. (On the other hand, Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Report" dipped below 2 million viewers last month for the first time in a year, so maybe May is not a great month for some cable news shows.)

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