Larry King intends to prove that he’s not too old to break into a new medium: the Internet.
The 78-year-old broadcaster came out of retirement Monday to debut “Larry King Now,” a new 30-minute talk show available on the popular online video service Hulu.
The Internet production marks King’s return to news and entertainment after his long-running CNN series,"Larry King Live,” ended in December 2010 after 25 years and nearly 7,000 shows. Unlike his hourlong call-in cable program, a nightly fixture, new shows are scheduled to be posted online Monday through Thursday about 3 p.m. Pacific time. And instead of fielding phone calls, King will take questions from the audience via Twitter.
The show is being produced by Ora TV (Ora means “now” in Italian), a newly launched digital venture financed by Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helú. Slim had been a guest on King’s CNN program, and the two began discussing the new enterprise more than a year ago. King is a co-founder of Ora TV.
In January, Hulu became involved as King and Ora TV were fine-tuning the new program, described as a more freewheeling version of his CNN show.
“We are trying to make a show that is a blend of what Larry does so well, which is having great conversations with interesting people, but also updating the show,” said Jon Housman, chief executive of Ora TV.
Hulu, owned by News Corp., Walt Disney Co.and NBCUniversal, has long wanted to add an interview show to its lineup, which includes episodes of late-night TV shows, including Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The nearly 5-year-old website this year has branched out into original content to differentiate itself from Web competitors. It launched a scripted show called “Battleground” and “Spoilers With Kevin Smith,” which discusses movies.
Neither Hulu nor Ora’s Housman would discuss financial terms of the multiyear deal. Hulu is paying a license fee and Ora is expected to get a split of the ad revenue generated from the show, which is being produced in Glendale.
“Both Hulu and Ora are looking at this as an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before: Produce a show at this caliber and volume — we’re doing more than 100 hours of programming a year — and bring the show to a digital audience,” Housman said.
On Monday producer Seth MacFarlane (“Ted” and “Family Guy”) was King’s first guest on the new show. On it, MacFarlane instructs King how to draw Stewie, the maniacal baby from “Family Guy.” Scheduled guests for future shows include Meghan McCain, Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike,” “Killer Joe”) and Betty White.
King, who got his start in radio in South Florida in the late 1950s, has taken to the Internet with his own Twitter account. This spring, he starred in a spoof — wearing his trademark suspenders — on Funny or Die, the comedic website launched by Will Ferrell.
“Larry knows what he does well, and he wanted to maintain that core of what people know him for, and he wanted to do something nontraditional,” said Andy Forssell, Hulu senior vice president of content. “He knows how to get people to open up. His style of interviewing is not exactly hardball, but he gets into all of the issues that come out during most hardball interviews.”
Hulu also is betting that its younger-skewing audience, whose median age hovers around 36, will warm to King.
“Larry is somewhat timeless,” Forssell said. “The guy never stops, and so I think that [his age] will become a non-factor.”