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Larry King Wraps up 25-Year Reign at CNN

Larry King (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Legendary interviewer Larry King will be closing out his 25-year career at CNN with a farewell show tonight that the network promises will yield a "bunch of surprises."

PICTURES: Larry King
PICTURES: Talk Show King

It has yet to be revealed who exactly will be appearing in the farewell tribute of "Larry King Live," but a few reports have speculated that  top news anchors like Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, are included in the lineup.

In June, right after CNN celebrated his 25th anniversary, .King, 77, announced his retirement from his show, a week night fixture at 9 p.m. Eastern since June 1, 1985.  He told viewers, "It's time to hang up my nightly suspenders."

Once the leader in cable TV news, he now ranks third in his time slot behind Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. His show was seen by 700,000 viewers this year, less than half the nightly audience of his peak year, 1998, when "Larry King Live" drew 1.64 million viewers. As recently as 2003, he was averaging 1.54 million.

Come January, Piers Morgan, a 45-year-old British journalist and TV personality known mainly in the U.S. as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent," will be taking over King's prime-time slot with his show, "Piers Morgan Tonight."

King is known for his non-confrontational approach to interviewing. "I ask short questions, I have no pretense at intellectuality, I don't pretend to know it all," King said years ago in explaining his style.

He has estimated that he's conducted 50,000 interviews during his half-century-long broadcasting career.  His guests range from Lady Gaga to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The end of "Larry King Live" is undeniably a cultural milestone, the end of a remarkable run. King, a pioneer in cable and a TV institution, will be missed.

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