Former British newspaper editor turned TV personality Piers Morgan is close to finalizing his deal to replace iconic talk show host Larry King, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.
Morgan, one of three judges on NBC’s top-rated reality TV show America’s Got Talent, has been negotiating with CNN for weeks and the $10 million deal is all but inked, according to a source familiar with the situation.
In fact, an agreement was finalized even before King’s live television retirement Tuesday.
King, 76, announced he would be ending his nightly Larry King Live show this fall after 25 years.
The broadcast veteran said he would still host specials for CNN on major events but wanted to spend more time with his wife and young children.
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, King and his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick, called off their plans to divorce in May.
Morgan, the former editor of the UK’s Daily Mirror who was sacked after publishing fabricated photos of British troops apparently abusing Iraqi detainees, is set to edge out CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest as a replacement.
“CNN has made it clear to Piers that he is the network’s first choice to replace Larry,” said a source.
“He is very, very close to agreeing to terms.”
The deal will almost certainly see Morgan quit America’s Got Talent.
Said the source, “America’s Got Talent finishes in mid-September. That is perfect timing to coincide with Larry’s retirement and allow Piers to take over.”
King’s departure represents a major restructuring for the cable news network, which follows a troubled period during which it has lost viewers to rivals MSNBC and Fox News.
CNN hired Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former governor of New York who admitted to visiting a prostitute, to host a show preceding the coveted 9pm time slot.
CNN said Tuesday night, of King’s replacement: “Today is about Larry. We will announce plans for the 9 p.m. hour in the weeks ahead.”
Morgan, 45, tied the knot with partner Celia Walden on June 24.
The couple will host a showbiz soiree in London on July 10, with the guest list to be headlined by former American Idol judge Simon Cowell, before he returns stateside.
Morgan was also the 2008 winner of Donald Trump‘s The Celebrity Apprentice.