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Chelsea Handler Turns the Table on Piers; Piers Morgan Discusses First Year With CNN

Aired January 16, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, what better way to mark my first anniversary than to bring back one of my favorite guests, the most dangerous woman in television, the lovely Chelsea Handler.

CHELSEA HANDLER, COMEDIAN: Hello. Your producers called me and I will be asking the questions tonight, Mr. Morgan.


Do you remember bumping me for Charlie Sheen?

MORGAN: Yes. One of my favorite moments of the year.


HANDLER: I will be turning the tables on you for your special anniversary twist.


HANDLER: How many times have you been properly in love?

MORGAN: I'm a British gentleman. We don't talk about things like sex and love.


HANDLER: So tonight you're going to have to answer all of my questions. All of them.


HANDLER: What about Condi Rice and you offering to cook her gumbo? How much are you worth? If you could relive five minutes of your life, which would they be?

MORGAN: I thought about that, because I thought you might ask me that, because I think it's a really good question.


MORGAN: My very special PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT year one with my interviewer, Chelsea Handler.

HANDLER: OK, well, happy first anniversary, Piers Morgan.

MORGAN: Thank you.

HANDLER: Congratulations on a very commendable year so far.

MORGAN: Commendable. That was a very delicate choice of words.

HANDLER: Well, I'm a delicate lady, as you may know. We wanted to turn the tables on you because we wanted to kind of go over this year and see what your thoughts were -- or are on some of your performances, some of your questions.

So let's start by letting everybody know how this show came to be because initially, you weren't supposed to be a live breaking news show, correct?

MORGAN: Well, initially, the idea was -- I'd do a show back in the UK called "Life Stories," which is a more auto-biographical hour- long interview with one guest. And that was kind of what we thought we would be doing mostly.

HANDLER: Which is more like Barbara Walters, you know, like one- hour kind of special --

MORGAN: That kind of thing. And more like when Larry King, my predecessor, the great Larry did these long -- longer interviews. It was that kind of thing is what we had in mind as being the bedrock of the show. But of course, everything changed very, very quickly.

HANDLER: You basically came back from -- you were taping Oprah interview, an Oprah interview, and you came back from the Oprah interview and you were on a plane and found out you're going to have to do live breaking news on your show.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, I was in New York and Oprah invited me to come on her show. This was after I'd interviewed her.

HANDLER: Are you sure you didn't invite yourself to be on Oprah's show?

MORGAN: Well, I was desperate and she listened to this desperate pathetic little Brit, and thought come, come to Chicago. And so I got on a plane at 6:00 a.m. and flew to Chicago. She tapes in the morning in Chicago. Did a great interview with Oprah, had a great time. Said good-bye to her. Got on a plane to L.A. And we had no Internet on the plane. My producer, Jonathan, and I, and we just sat there, (INAUDIBLE) reading celebrity magazines, thinking this is all very easy this interviewing life (ph) at CNN.

And when we landed, about 3:00 in the afternoon Pacific Time, all hell had broken loose in Egypt.

My BlackBerry were going crazy. And I got the word from Jonathan, OK, well, we're going live tonight in three hours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Good evening, it's been a day of quite extraordinary turmoil and tension around the world. We're covering this across Egypt, from Alexandra to Cairo, and Washington and New York.


MORGAN: And I said, this is a good time to tell you that I've never actually anchored an hour of live breaking news. And I remember Jonathan who's himself EP'd the "Today" show, the "Nightly News" looking at me, as if -- is he joking?



MORGAN: I'm live from a city that suffered numerous earthquakes but never any as big as the one that struck Japan yesterday.

President Obama and the first lady are hosting a group of congressional leaders tonight in the East Room of the White House. Just a few moments ago, he had this to say about the successful mission to take out Osama bin Laden.

For 42 years, Gadhafi ruled through fear, torture and terror. Tonight, not just Libya, but the world is a safer place.


HANDLER: OK. Well, I would have to say that you sound like you know kind of what you're doing.



MORGAN: Anderson Cooper in Cairo tonight. Anderson, what is the mood as we lead up to this march?


HANDLER: I mean you made -- it was a nice -- it was a nice way to get into breaking news. How did you feel about it?

MORGAN: Well, look, I mean -- I have spent my life back in Britain as a journalist involved with breaking news. So it was no -- it was no difficulty for me to try and report on this. The only thing I wasn't sure was, could I actually anchor a CNN breaking news hour over these momentous times because it's really important to the brand of CNN that I could do that job properly, as Larry King had done for 25 years when he had to.

I found it exhilarating, slightly terrifying. But what you found and what I found very quickly, was you have this extraordinary team of people that work at CNN. I mean they have the greatest number of bureaus overseas. They have the best anchors, they have the best foreign correspondents and they have the most incredible resource. And suddenly I was aware of the power of CNN around the world. There was no network like it when a big story breaks. We could go anywhere. We were in Tahrir Square, we were in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the places that very few networks other than us were. And that kind of power was exhilarating to see that, yes, we're number one at this.

HANDLER: So let's talk about some of the world leaders that you sat down with over the past year because obviously that's a mind- blowing experience no matter what your background is even though you claim to be a serious journalist before you came to CNN.

Let's talk about your interview with Netanyahu.

MORGAN: Yes, well, I got this call, do you want to go to Israel. I've never been to Israel. You got to interview the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who's been interviewed by everybody. All the great interviewers in the world. And so there's a real pressure there to go there. You only get like an hour with this guy, and it's got to be good. You're going a long ways, cost a lot of money, a lot of people are going to watch this.

Very important interview. It's the first one he did after the Arab Spring uprisings broke. And so I was nervous but excited because I thought this could be a real moment for me and the show in terms of establishing our credentials in political interviewing.

We actually loved it. I mean, to me, politics is a great phrase, somebody (INAUDIBLE) in politics is show business for ugly people. And I've always kind of thought, it's the same thing. Show business, royalty, politics, news, in the end, we're dealing with human beings. And they may be politicians, they might be singers, they might be whatever, but in the end, the art of an interview is what I like to do, I interview with people, is just to get to the truth somehow, get to what they're really like, I'm doing you or Benjamin Netanyahu --

HANDLER: You will never be doing me but anyway --

MORGAN: Well, in your dreams.


MORGAN: What I found -- what I found --

HANDLER: Do you think your interview went with Benjamin Netanyahu after you watched? Did you watch your own interviews?

MORGAN: Yes. Of course.


MORGAN: What is your nightmare scenario for you?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We don't want to see this stark Mediavalism that represses women, that crushes the rights of people, that rolls us back a millennium, that fosters violence and does everything that we abhor that it would take over. And I think these are the two polls. One is real democratic change, and the other is a dissent to militant Islamism that squashes all freedoms and threatens the peace of everyone.


HANDLER: OK, and what did you think of your performance?

MORGAN: I found him incredibly impressive. You know he's a guy who's polarizing in public opinion. People love, they hate him. He's in an incredibly difficult job. I mean trying to be the Israeli prime minister at a time when there's so much turmoil in the Middle East, trying to keep a lid on all the tensions there, erupting all around you.

You know he did a very impressive thing for me, I thought. He took me over to this map behind him, behind his desk, and he showed me the scale of the countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and his hands were getting bigger and bigger as he went around these huge countries. And he said, watch this, took his thumb and he put a thumb print of Israel right in the middle of all these huge countries.

And he said, that is my problem. And there it was, this thumbprint, this tiny, tiny expanse of land surrounded by -- as was at the time, a lot of warring factions all around them, you know, endangering potentially the lives of his people. So a tough job and a tough man. But I --

HANDLER: Did you like him?

MORGAN: I did like him. And I thought he was an impressive character. I thought he had the hand of history on his shoulder and he felt it very keenly. He'd been prime minister before, he hadn't found peace with the Palestinians, he got a second chances now. And there's big pressure on him to do that deal now and he knows it.

HANDLER: What about Colin Powell?

MORGAN: Colin Powell is a remarkable man. My brother is a British army colonel and he was most excited when I sat down with Colin Powell of all the interviews I've done. Because he said, to soldiers, this guy was a hero.


GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the things that troubles me the most, and I've been in this town on and off for the last 30 odd years. What troubles me the most is I've never seen such polarization in our political process. I have never seen a situation where you have people on the far left, on the far right who focus on their own extreme positions, and hold these as theological positions that can't be moved away from and changed and everybody is measured against these extremes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: As I saw from this interview with him, a thoroughly decent man, a brilliant soldier and someone who's always put public service.


MORGAN: Before himself, and that's a pretty rare commodity.

HANDLER: What about Condi Rice and you offering to cook her gumbo? Is that what you did?


MORGAN: Well, I didn't know what gumbo was.

HANDLER: You don't know what gumbo is?

MORGAN: Well, I do now. But I didn't at the time. And she kept -- do you want me to cook you gumbo? Is this a weird chat-up line? I like Condi Rice because --

HANDLER: You like women now because you like to flirt with women whenever they're on. That's your thing. That is your --


MORGAN: You flirt with every man that comes in your show.

HANDLER: But that's my thing as an interviewer.

MORGAN: Why can't it be my thing, too?

HANDLER: Well, it is your thing. I'm just saying, are you aware of it? Do you have some self-recognition about it because you do use that as a tool to any woman that's on? I don't think you and Condi Rice are going to be going on a date any time soon so flirting with her --

MORGAN: How do you know?

HANDLER: -- seems a little shallow to me.

MORGAN: I actually thought she responded very well to some gentle flirting. But actually what I liked about it was that she clearly had never been interviewed like that before. People were terrified of her. I found her to be --

HANDLER: Super horny.

MORGAN: Surprisingly attractive, shall we say? And surprisingly playful.

HANDLER: A lot of people, and I'm not going to mention any names because these are very, very inside sources, think that you're getting off fairly easy because of it being an election year and of all the different characters that you get to assail or actually have on the show, and act like you're friends with them for an hour. So let's talk about some of your favorites. Because I know I have mine. But I'm very curious to see what it's like to sit across from Newt Gingrich to Herman Cain to Rick Santorum.

So let's discuss some of your favorites. So where would you like to begin?

MORGAN: Some of them were impressive people I've met actually turned out not to run for president which I thought was a shame. People like Chris Christie who I spent the day with in New Jersey. I found him incredibly impressive. And the reason was that -- actually part of what we didn't air was he and I shared a car journey for an hour and he told me about his time as a prosecutor. He never lost a case. He took on the mafia, he took on drug gangs, he took on every nasty part of society you could imagine.

Chris Christie never lost a case. And I looked at this guy, and I thought, that's some record, that is some record. If he was a boxer, he'd be the greatest boxer of all time. I think America needs people like him at high level in public office. So I was actually a bit disappointed when he decided not to run. I understood the reasons, he thinks it's too young, he's got a young family.


MORGAN: Your party is crying out for a savior, somebody that they think has maybe the youthful energy and dynamism to combat that strength in Obama. Someone who's got an economic track record. You know, when I look at all the checklists there aren't many names on it right now that tick the right boxes right now for the Republicans. You tick most of those boxes.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: And you know what, those are all, I think, appropriate and maybe accurate tactical judgments. That's not the way I'm making this decision. I'm making this decision based on whether I believe in my heart that I'm ready to be president of the United States and that I want to be president of the United States right now.


HANDLER: I know that you bite your tongue a lot in politics when you're talking about politics and you have to, obviously, because you are thought of in quotes as a newsperson. But you like to ask everybody what they think of Obama. And I would love to know -- I mean we -- actually let's show a clip of you asking all the different celebrities you ask about Obama and then I'll ask you about Obama.



MORGAN: Are you happy with the way that Obama has been running the country? Are you a fan?




MORGAN: Certainly a majority, in my view, love him, to just stick a metaphorical bloody nose on his opponents.


MORGAN: I think --

FREEMAN: Now, you do now, because now you see how hard he's trying and how hard they have fought against him, yes, that's what we all want to see. We wanted -- and he's going to do it.

MORGAN: Has he disappointed, you Obama?

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: I'm disappointed that we haven't seen more bold decisions from him.

MORGAN: How's he doing, the half white guy?

WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: I'm still rooting for the black president.


SYKES: I think he's doing -- I think he's doing a great job.

MORGAN: How do you think he's doing?

HEIDI KLUM, MODEL/TV HOST: That is a tough question.


HANDLER: Well, thank you for asking Heidi Klum about Obama since she's --

MORGAN: Why shouldn't I ask Heidi Klum?

HANDLER: She's German and a supermodel.

MORGAN: Actually I think she's American now.

HANDLER: Well, are you American yet?


HANDLER: Exactly.

MORGAN: I'm British. But she's an American citizen, why shouldn't I ask her?

HANDLER: Well, I guess you could ask her but it just seems like an odd choice to ask somebody --

MORGAN: No, I think -- I think it's really pompous when people say you can only ask politicians or serious people about the president.

HANDLER: No, no. You're absolutely right about that. You can ask anybody. But I mean it does throw everybody off. So I would like to ask you what your thoughts on Obama are.

MORGAN: Well, like everybody else, I was enthralled when he came to office, when he won the presidential race. He seemed -- I remember seeing him at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel one night and this was about six weeks before he won the election. And I had never seen him in the flesh.

And so the (INAUDIBLE) board up, there's some fundraiser for him, about 1,000 people were waiting in the valet parking area just to get a glimpse of this guy. And all this hype have been building up, and he got out of the car and he just looked like a rock star, political rock star, and flashed the grin and he waved at the crowd, they all went crazy, and I thought, OK, this guy is the real deal. He's a kind of Kennedy-esque politician. He knows how to milk a crowd. He knows how to be charming, he knows how to flash a smile.

The big unanswered question when he got elected was, would he actually be any good as president? And I think if you're being fair and balanced about how you assess what he's done, he inherited one of the biggest hospital passes any president has done in history. And I think he's done an OK job. Look at what he's done with the car industry to save that and to revive it. Big tick in the box.

What I would say is that I think that he's beginning to show, I think, more of the strength of character that his supporters believe that he had to start with that perhaps he shied away from when he first got in office. I think he was a bit weak with Republicans. He was a bit too keen to be Mr. Nice guy. I think he realizes that. You're seeing a tougher Obama. He's aged before us, I mean his hair has gone grey.

He shows you the pressure that goes with this office. And I think that, you know, it will be a fascinating race this year, whether it's Mitt Romney, whether it's Newt Gingrich, whether it's Rick Santorum, whenever takes him on, it will be a very tough battle. But I think what you'll see is Obama, President Obama, rising up and becoming that guy that got himself elected again, which is a very different guy than the one we've seen in the White House.

HANDLER: Well, then hopefully at that point, maybe he'll come on and do your shown.


HANDLER: We're going to take a break and you know what that means, I'm going to ask you a question and not let you answer it.


HANDLER: So here's the question. When you were covering the royal wedding, how painful was it to sit next to Anderson Cooper for that many hours? MORGAN: It was a joy for Anderson.

HANDLER: And while you're thinking about that, here's a look at you Tebowing.


MORGAN: This. Am I now doing the Tebow?


MORGAN: This is the Tebow. And what does this bring me?




MORGAN: To sum up the whole day, the monarchy is back. The British monarchy. The battered British monarch which had been on the ropes now for the last 10, 15 years, suddenly we're seeing now with this occasion, widespread jubilation, not just here, but seeing scenes all over the world, people watching this, two billion people joining in this celebration. Quite amazing.


HANDLER: OK. So why don't you tell us about your experience at the royal wedding? I know you were there with your very close friend, Anderson Cooper.


MORGAN: Well, it's quite funny, because I've always (INAUDIBLE) Anderson wasn't that into the royal wedding. But as it went on, I think even Anderson began to wilt under the sheer pressure of the event. It our (INAUDIBLE) behind us. And there moment when a million people came up the (INAUDIBLE) with a line of policemen in front and in front of them, were the royal household cavalry in their stunning silver. And it was like a throwback to pomp and pageantry and great British tradition.

Well, there's no other country in the world can do. And even Anderson I think was slightly moved by that because it was just so damn exciting, and it was the one thing probably left in the world the Brits can do better than anybody else.

HANDLER: I would actually agree with that. You guys are, that's like your thumbprints on royal weddings as like Netanyahu's thumbprint on the map. It's perfect. It's a nice little parallel.

MORGAN: Yes, people said to me like --

HANDLER: Completely different circumstances. MORGAN: Well, people say to me, you know, why the royal wedding? Who cares -- well, who care about the royal family anymore? On that day, the sun was shining, the beautiful -- unusually beautiful spring day, and I think everyone realized what the royals really give the world are a bit of escapism. And this for that one day, they gave everybody a little bit of a tonic, you know, the world is crushing, there are wars all over the place, financial upheaval. People really suffering. Turn on the television and just have a moment of -- isn't life great?

HANDLER: Now have you had them on the show yet?

MORGAN: I haven't yet but the invitation remains extended to William and Kate. I'd love to talk to them.

HANDLER: OK. Well, let's cross the pond and talk about American royalty. Let's move over to the Kardashians.


HANDLER: I know that was a wedding that you were not invited to.

MORGAN: I know. That was --

HANDLER: And she was on the show, right? Kim was on the show?

MORGAN: Yes. I've had both her and mom. Kim, Courtney and their mother.

HANDLER: Well, I know Kris Jenner was on this show.

MORGAN: She was.

HANDLER: Talking about their marriage and that everything was going fine about, like, three weeks prior to the breakup. Right?

MORGAN: Well, actually it was a week before we taped it because it coincided with her book launch. And in the time that it took her to say everything is great, don't believe the rumors.


MORGAN: By the time it aired they'd all split up.

HANDLER: So does that kind of thing piss you off?

MORGAN: Not really. I think the Kardashians are celebrities. Professional celebrities. And in their own way, they are a phenomenon as big as anything. I mean Kim Kardashian has made repeatedly up to $100 million for no discernable talent at all. When I met her, I saw a nice girl, she was very hard working on the day, she did exactly what we asked her to do.

She was charming, she was polite, she was well mannered. She had this very fixed idea of how her brand was going to work and it was making her loads of money. Yes, we can be churlish, yes, we can be cynical about it, but she is a creation of the times. She is a creation of the modern age where Andy Warhol's big thing, everyone will be famous in 15 minutes, she's the personification of that.

HANDLER: Well, I just -- I just I bring it up because I feel like you have a lot of people on the show who claim to be OK in their marriage or relationship or whatever it is that's going on in their lives at the time. And then, you know, moments later it can switch, and this is Hollywood. So that is kind of par for the course.

But, you know, another example is Demi and Ashton were on, and they were -- and that was months before their marriage kind of unfurled. But what was your feeling when you were interviewing Demi and Ashton? Did you feel like they were putting on a show? Did you feel like that marriage was going to fall apart? I mean --

MORGAN: No, I didn't. And actually I'd spent some time with them in Las Vegas a few months before, and actually, I thought they were just very happily in love. And I was quite surprised when they split up. They spent five years married together despite all the cynics saying it wouldn't last a year. And I don't know the reasons why.

And what I've learned about this job, never be surprised and never be too judgmental when a marriage breaks up. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. And that's probably a different view I have now to when I was a newspaper reporter where you tend to have to judgmental about all this kind of things, and get very excited about it. But the reality is, you know, 1 in 3 marriages splits up. Why should celebrities be any different?

HANDLER: And what marriage are you on right now? Your second?

MORGAN: My last.

HANDLER: My -- your second and your last? I just want to make sure the audience knows.

MORGAN: Are you auditioning?

HANDLER: No, no. I'm not auditioning.

MORGAN: We know you are.

HANDLER: I'm not auditioning. It would be -- I told you --

MORGAN: Every time you come to my show you've been outrageously flirtatious with me.

HANDLER: It would be an offer only, it would be an offer from you that would be rejected by me.


HANDLER: So coming up one of the best moments from your show, and something that I should have done, the big PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT walk-off. MORGAN: Nice.

HANDLER: But what I really want to know is, why didn't I get a cutout like the Kardashians?



CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), FORMER U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: All right. Are we off? Are we done?

MORGAN: I'm not. I'm still here.

O'DONNELL: Well --

MORGAN: It would appear that the interview has just been ended.

Are you under the influence right now of any substances?

CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: No. Nothing. I'm under the influence of you.

MORGAN: Often the drug (INAUDIBLE) --


MORGAN: That might not be the best influence.

SHEEN: I'll take it. I'll take it.


HANDLER: A lot of people attacked you for being too nice to Charlie Sheen, which by the way I was bumped for. Do you remember bumping me for Charlie Sheen?

MORGAN: Yes. It was one of my favorite moments of the year.

HANDLER: Yes, it was one of my favorite moments, too.

MORGAN: Well, Chelsea Handler, we've just passed that.


MORGAN: And last minute, too.

HANDLER: I was very excited because I didn't want to come here in the first place.

MORGAN: No, you were very overexcited and then very crushingly disappointed.

HANDLER: So why were you so nice to him?

MORGAN: I like Charlie Sheen. What's Charlie Sheen done to anybody? I interviewed him 20 years ago, hadn't seen him since. And it was probably the most dramatic day I had in the whole time at CNN this year because he turned up with five minutes to spare for a live show, we had no plan B. He promised me all day he'd be there, didn't show, and then five minutes before, he got out of this studio here in L.A. And he had this weird entourage with him, and he just got with a cigarette in his mount, and went, all right, man, you can relax, let's go rock n' roll. And that's what he did for an hour. He was just rock n' roll.

HANDLER: Well, right. Do you think he was high, though, while you were interviewing him?

MORGAN: No. And in fact he pulled out memorably this drugs test report he'd had which showed he was clean. And then about three segments later in one of the commercial breaks, he signed it for me, and it just said, to Piers, let's get hammered, love, Charlie. Well, I laughed because Charlie Sheen can lead his life any way he sees fit.

HANDLER: I want to talk about Christine O'Donnell walking out on you.


HANDLER: And now this was satellite. So she didn't walk out on you in person, she walked out on you over the television.


MORGAN: It was bizarre. Because she came on to promote her book and when she talked about all these things in her life, these scandals she'd been through, these controversies. And when I began to ask her about them in detail, she looked completely affronted. And I was like, look, no offense, love, but you're here to sell this book, I'm asking you about stuff in your book, and you're a politician. What is this problem here?

HANDLER: Well, I think you're absolutely right on that -- on that point. I think there are some questions that you asked where you do push and push the person. I know I've been a victim of it. We can show --

MORGAN: You poor little (INAUDIBLE) flower.

HANDLER: Yes, I know. Look at me, I'm a shell of what I was.

MORGAN: Really. I'm so sorry.

HANDLER: Let's look at a clip of some of your (INAUDIBLE).


MORGAN: You're in the 1 percent, right?

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKER: Well, I'm not in the 1 percent, no, but I am --


MORGAN: Probably .2 percent.


MORGAN: You're one of the most successful film makers in the country.

MOORE: No. I'm not. For a documentary film maker I do very well.

MORGAN: Well, now you're splitting hairs.

Again, with respect, it's not as simple as that. That's not what I'm asking you. I'm only asking you, as his attorney, for some factual evidence which may well help your client. I mean, you still haven't answered me as to how much money, how he paid the money, and how often he paid it, and when the payments first started. Do you know the answers?

WOOD: Thank you. I do know the answers and it's not my place to come on to your show --

MORGAN: What are you worth?

HANDLER: I don't know.

MORGAN: Yes, you do.

HANDLER: No, I don't know.

MORGAN: I bet you're one of those people who knows exactly how much you're worth.

HANDLER: I don't know how much I'm worth.

MORGAN: You're a ruthless business machine.

HANDLER: I am ruthless when it comes to business.

MORGAN: Then you know exactly what you're worth.

HANDLER: Anyone can find out how much money I make. So I don't need to be --


HANDLER: Just, they can. What kind of -- why are you -- shut- up. Just shut-up.

How do you think Larry King would have handled the situation, like any of those?

MORGAN: In the graceful, brilliant way he did with every situation for 25 years, one of my heroes.

HANDLER: What do you think about Larry King? Is he one of your heroes?

MORGAN: Yes, he genuinely was. I watched Larry for years, like everybody. He was an absolute institution. Part of coming my big challenge, I think, coming to CNN was to replace this legend. I interviewed Phil Donahue recently. He was like, wow, it must have been quite a moment for you to just take over from Larry King, a guy who did 7,000 shows in 25 years, and was just part of the fabric of America.

And the one thing I'm pleased about, I think we have got to the end of the first year and finally people aren't constantly comparing my show to Larry's, because they're different shows. We have different interview styles. That was a real hurdle to get over. Because he's just, as I say, a legend.

HANDLER: You have some similarities between Larry King. You do like to interrupt a lot. So you have that going for you.

HANDLER: If they start rambling and being boring or obfuscating, or just not playing the game properly, I'm going to get stuck into them and interrupt, and get proper answers out of them. The guests I love are the ones like Morgan Freeman who just came to play. He came to be an open book, whether it was about politics, where he was brilliantly controversial, but I knew he held these views, whether it was about women, where he was, you know, a bit naughty but it was very funny and he knew what he was doing.

Everything I asked him about, he was entertaining, informative, interesting and a proper star.


MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Screw the country. We are going to do whatever we do to get this black man -- we're going to do whatever we can to get this black man out of here.


HANDLER: Do you feel like you're being judged by other journalists, like Tom Brokaw or Barbara Walters? I know you've had them all on he show. How do you feel when you have to interview somebody like that?

MORGAN: It's always challenging. And I like them. They're all feisty --

HANDLER: Do you think Barbara Walters is feisty?

MORGAN: My God. One of the most feisty women you could ever meet.

HANDLER: On camera or off.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": With the exception of Iraq, there isn't one country in the Middle East, except for Israel, which does not have either a king or a dictator. We support many of those countries.


MORGAN: She's ferociously hard working, incredibly professional and utterly ruthless. I want to have half her passion and half her talent when I'm her age. That would be a great thing to aspire to.

HANDLER: One of your favorite questions to ask people, which hopefully you asked Barbara Walters, was how many times have you been properly in love.

MORGAN: It's a great question.

HANDLER: Let's look at these bevy of reactions.


MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

HANDLER: Properly in love? Oh, that's a good question actually.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

BRUNO MARS, SINGER: Never. Next question.

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: You are making me fall properly in love with you. I mean it.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

GRIFFIN: Oh, you did not -- I'll throw this mic pack at your --

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love in your life?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Once, and I remain there.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

GRIFFIN: How many times have you been properly in love? Honestly, I've been waiting long enough --

MORGAN: You've been watching the show.


MORGAN: It's time for another break and another question that I am not going to let you answer. It's your favorite. How many times have you been properly in love?

While you ponder that, here's one of my favorite moments, Piers Morgan versus Manny Pacquiao. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)





OPRAH WINFREY, "OPRAH": Was is it good? You are good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to congratulate you in unseating a 95- year-old man.

MORGAN: If I was going to woo you, which isn't completely crazy -- but if I was going to --

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Confess to me that you'll spend Sunday afternoons watching football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This started off so well. I preferred it when you were saying you were going to take me in a dark room and spank me.

It was less awkward.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: The truth is, I have to say that being here on this show is the greatest moment.


HANDLER: OK, so that was a very impressive first week.

MORGAN: Not bad, was it?

HANDLER: No, you had Oprah. What do you think of Oprah?

HANDLER: I loved Oprah. What I loved about her was that she was so genuine. I had never met her before. But she walked into the interview. She was supposed to give me 40 minutes. She gave me two hours. And then she went out afterwards and went to some red carpet stuff for her own network launch, and all she did was pump up me and my show, and said what a great interviewer I was, and what a great time she had.

I thought that was very selfless and generous by somebody who didn't need to do that. I was just a young guy taking over for the great Larry King. I thought that was a very generous thing that she did to me.


WINFREY: That's one of the toughest interviews I've had in 20 years.


HANDLER: Was she your most impressive guest that you have had?

MORGAN: Certainly one of them, yes.

HANDLER: Probably the biggest, right?

MORGAN: Yes. Look, Oprah, to me, is the biggest star in the world. I don't care what medium we're in. No other star in movies or television or music has made the money that she has done, built the empire that she has done, or got a better story for getting there.

Oprah is one of the most inspiring stories that you could ever wish to see. I loved interviewing her. I thought she was terrific.

HANDLER: OK, so I'm going to ask you your favorite questions that you ask everybody else. So I want you to keep your answers brief and try not to interrupt me in the middle of me asking you. OK?

So, how many times have you been properly in love?

MORGAN: I'm not going to tell you.

HANDLER: That's ridiculous. Why? Just say it. You don't have to say who it was, just say lo many times.

MORGAN: Nobody ever has to answer that question.

HANDLER: OK, well you need to answer it right now.

MORGAN: I'm a British gentleman. We don't talk about things like sex and love.

HANDLER: What about hypocrisy? Do you talk about that?

MORGAN: I have been known to. I've been known to perpetrate it, too.

HANDLER: I'm assuming that you are in love with the wife that you have now.

MORGAN: That would be a pretty accurate assumption.

HANDLER: And your previous wife?

MORGAN: That would also be an --

HANDLER: OK. so two plus. How many others were there?

MORGAN: I'm not going to tell you.

HANDLER: If you could relive five minute of your life, which would they be?

MORGAN: I thought about that because I thought you might ask me that, because I think it's a really good question. HANDLER: These are the questions that you ask people and you thought I might ask you.

MORGAN: They're good questions. Also, I think they get into a rhythm.

HANDLER: So answer the question.

MORGAN: You interrupted me. See how easy it is?


MORGAN: I would say the moment I would most like to relive -- and it's a professional moment, but it was one when I was editor in chief of "the Daily Mirror" and the biggest news story in my lifetime had happened, the 9/11 disaster.

And we were the smallest paper in terms of staff and resource in Britain at the time. And it was the British Press Awards, the most prestigious event had came about four or five months later. We won all four of the major awards, including newspaper of the year, specifically for our coverage of 9/11.

I thought, that's the biggest story I am ever going to cover as a journalist, with some outstanding --

HANDLER: So what would you want to relive from that?

MORGAN: I would relive the moment they announced that we won newspaper of the year.

HANDLER: I would like that five minutes back that you just explained to that story to me in.


HANDLER: Because it was long-winded and you really didn't say much.

MORGAN: But it wasn't though.

HANDLER: If you could go back to before you were famous and you can walk through the door that says fame -- I didn't know there was this door, but apparently in your version of events, there is. If you could walk through that door again, would you?

MORGAN: Absolutely.

HANDLER: I would too.

MORGAN: I love being famous. If you're a young mom bringing up three kids on your own with no income, that's tough. That's a hard life. Having your photograph taken and having to do interviews to promote your own shows and make even more money for yourself, having to answering difficult questions occasionally, having the private life that often, in most cases, you have sold for commercial gain yourself, discussed by journalists -- you know what, get over yourselves.

We are very, very lucky to be well-known, to enjoy all the trappings, the upgrades at airlines, the fancy tables in good restaurants, the nice cars. Don't you think?

HANDLER: Yes, I absolutely agree with you. I'm 100 percent. What would you like your epitaph to say?

HANDLER: I'd love it to say, he tried his best. I always try to do everything that I do to my best. That, to me, is a great maxim for life. Try your best. Because then if you fail, you weren't quite good enough, but you know you gave it your all.

HANDLER: OK, you love your celebrity guests and you love flirting with them.

MORGAN: Can I just say something? You're a very rude demeanor when it comes to responding to what the guests are saying. You're supposed to engage. It's not all about you.

HANDLER: They wanted me to come and play you for a day. And so I'm being rude because that's how --.

MORGAN: But I don't do that. I engage, eye contact.

HANDLER: We have eye contact.


HANDLER: It's not my fault if you're not staring at my eyes. Even though you're very flirtatious, you flirt with men and women. Men and women.

MORGAN: I'm ambidextrous. What can I say?

HANDLER: We're going to get into that when we come back. People like Josh Grobin, which I can't understand for the life of me.






MORGAN: Might I remind you, your idea of awful is my idea of reasonably good. So you have to be careful with your language here.

Does sex get better with age, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You tell us. You're the one that's taking Viagra.

MORGAN: As if you couldn't get any more sickening, being good looking, super rich, incredibly successful, now a smashing TV star --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is good for my confidence.

MORGAN: Ellen, it's my tie. Set it on fire, baby.

You are like the absolute sort of personification of the modern day sex symbol, aren't you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, where do we go from here?

MORGAN: I don't know, but I'm hoping somewhere nice.


HANDLER: Well, you flirt with men as equally as you do women. So what's that about?

MORGAN: It's about good interview technique.

HANDLER: Are you sure you're not just being a buffoon?

MORGAN: How do you even know what that word means?

HANDLER: Buffoon? Because I'm looking at one. What do you -- I mean, what happens when you decide you want to flirt with someone like Adam Levine. I mean, I saw you -- I know when you have Oscar winners on --

MORGAN: That's just manly banter.

HANDLER: No, that wasn't manly banter when you were talking to Josh Grobin. Your face was like lighting up like a cherub.

MORGAN: He's a talented, handsome man.

HANDLER: OK, but there's a line where a talented and handsome -- I mean, I'm a woman. I've interviewed Adam and I didn't look like you, like a schoolgirl.

MORGAN: I have seen you interview 50 Cent. That was a pretty different ball game.

HANDLER: Tell me about your interview with 50 Cent.

MORGAN: He's an impressive guy.


MORGAN: I liked him. I love interviews when they're surprising.

HANDLER: I feel the exact same way, actually.

MORGAN: I had a lot of people contact me after 50 Cent and say, wow, that was surprising. There's a guy in a smart suit, talking eloquently and intelligently and very thoughtfully, I thought, about social issues. I admired him. I thought this guy has worked out about life and how to get out of -- as he said, get out of the ghetto, as he did.

HANDLER: Right. Well, you know I feel the same way, since I slept with him. Now what do you -- I know when you interview people like Whoopi Goldberg, Colin Firth -- I know you're very -- when you have esteemed actors on, people who have won Academy Awards, that you're very kind of -- you know, you love that.

MORGAN: Actors are hard, actually. Actors and actresses are the hardest interviews, I think. I don't know what you think. But they're tough because they're so used to playing a role. They're actually not very good at playing themselves.

So you occasionally get a real gem, like Anthony Hopkins or -- who else? Jeff Bridges was great, Morgan Freeman, people who are just very, very good at being themselves as well.

But there are a lot of actors and actresses who actually are quite dull in real life, because they're so used to playing other people that all their energy goes into these characters. And they're not very aware of who they really are.

HANDLER: How do you feel about comedians? Females or male comedians?

MORGAN: A lot of comedians are quite depressive, tricky characters.


MORGAN: That's the running theme that I've seen. I think it comes from this horrible need they have, which is the drive they have in them, to make people laugh.

There's nothing worse, I shouldn't imagine, than being somebody whose job is to make people laugh and you don't get one. I think this instills this awful insecurity and paranoia in comedians.

So most comedians I meet are edgy. They're very -- they talk in a quite depressing way about their lives. They often go through a lot of angst. But they still remain very funny.

Occasionally you get an exception, someone like Jimmy Fallon who to me -- if you talk about all around entertaining talent, this guy sat her -- he played the guitar. He sang. He did impressions. He told jokes. And this exuberance came through.

So he was the exception. Most comedians are tricky.

HANDLER: What about Kathy Griffin, when she crawled over the desk and tried to face hump you?

MORGAN: Well a completely mad woman doing a completely mad thing on live television, and one of the most dangerous moments of my life.

HANDLER: Really?

MORGAN: Can you imagine sitting here and Kathy Griffin comes at you like a rampant hyena?

HANDLER: No, I can't. How did you defend yourself?

MORGAN: It was -- I had to fend her off, like I did you.

HANDLER: Oh really? I don't you ever had to fend me off.

MORGAN: I saw lust in your eyes.

HANDLER: I keep my distance. Whatever you see in my eyes is what you're projecting. I keep coming back as a favor to you and your network.

So, Piers, I happen to know that you can play one song and one song only on the -- well, whatever, it's one song you can play. So that gets old no matter what.

So it's one song on the piano. And you seem to think that you're some sort of rock star. But here's how a real rock star behaves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi kids. Be somebody.

MORGAN: That is brilliant.




MORGAN: Can we expect the little patter of little Beyonce and Jay-Zs?

BEYONCE, SINGER: You know, only God knows. Only God knows.

MORGAN: Would you mind asking him to tell me?

BEYONCE: I will. I will. We'll have a conversation. I'll whisper. But you can't tell anybody else.

KID ROCK, SINGER: When they first told me I was going to be interviewed by Piers Morgan, I was like, man, who the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is Piers Morgan.

MORGAN: I suppose the obvious place to start with you, Rod, as with all interview with you, would be women.


MORGAN: You've had a sort of lifetimes pursuit, really, of glamorous women. Would you plead guilty to that? STEWART: That's a very dangerous question.


HANDLER: OK. So let's talk about your obsession with Twitter. You're really obsessed with Twitter. Because last time I was on this show, you were sitting there Tweeting in between commercial breaks.

MORGAN: I'm obsessed with catching you.

HANDLER: How many Twitter followers do you have?

MORGAN: When did you join, first of all?

HANDLER: I don't remember when I joined.

MORGAN: Years before me.

HANDLER: Not years before you. Probably like two year I've been on. How long have you bee on?

MORGAN: One year.

HANDLER: OK, so you're at 1.7 million Twitter follows.

MORGAN: Pretty much, yes.

HANDLER: I'm pretty sure that I'm well over twice as much as that -- twice as many as that.

MORGAN: And you've been on twice as long.

HANDLER: Yes. Right. And I'm way over. I have 4.4 million, it says here. And you have 1.7.

MORGAN: I'll take you down.

HANDLER: If you hosted my show in place of me, and I host your show, we should see who gets the higher ratings. I have a feeling it won't be you.

MORGAN: Go on then. A bet is a bet.

HANDLER: OK. I have to run that by E! Anyway, so Jack Nicholson, that's who you want on the show the most.

MORGAN: He remains the Holy Grail of TV interviews. He doesn't do them, ever. I think he's done like one in 40 years.

HANDLER: I think Jack would be great on this show.

MORGAN: I think he would be superb.

HANDLER: Have you reached out to him?

MORGAN: No, but I keep saying on the show, hoping that he's sitting there watching, thinking to himself, if I just do one interview with one guy on TV, it's going to be this guy.

HANDLER: You think that he's going to want to do that one interview with you?

MORGAN: I always say, why not?

HANDLER: What do you have to offer him that everybody else doesn't?

MORGAN: I do interviews in a different way than anyone else. It's my style. And you either like it or you don't.

HANDLER: What if he doesn't like it?

MORGAN: You obviously love it, because you keep coming back.

HANDLER: What if he doesn't like it?

MORGAN: He will like it, because he's my hero.


MORGAN: Jack Nicholson is to me -- he's -- if Oprah is the biggest star in the world, Jack is the most charismatic star in the world. He's a brilliant actor. And every summer, you see him on a boat surrounded by nubile young things, a big load of pizza, a sick pack of beer. And he doesn't care about the paparazzi. His big belly hangs out. And he thinks, I don't care. I'm Jack Nicholson. That's why I love him.

HANDLER: Is that the life you wish you could lead?

MORGAN: Yes. I would like to be Jack Nicholson.

HANDLER: Exactly. OK, so let's take a quick look at everybody kissing your ass for the end of the year.

MORGAN: I love that idea.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More people saw our interview than anything I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're good at this, you know? And you do it with such a light, easy way. One might even forget oneself and answer your question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is happening to me in the supermarket most of the time is people are saying "Piers Morgan, can I have your autograph?"

MORGAN: You mounted many wild elephants --

JEFF BRIDGES, ACTOR: Yes, I'm on one right now with you now, man.

MORGAN: What he your idea of a little bit of heaven?

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: Being here with you, Piers. This is my little bit of heaven, damn it.

MORGAN: What's the big dream role for you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really understanding you, by the way. Because usually when British people talk, I just hear like doi, doi, doi, doi.

COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: You turned into a shrink.

MORGAN: Really enjoyed that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saved me a trip to the couch, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't shut him up. Not even with a taco. Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Settle down, Piers. Yikes. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I -- this may sound like I'm blowing smoke, but we were sitting in bed watching Piers Morgan.

WALTERS: Piers has promised everybody that I would cry.

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Piers, that's how we do it with Oprah. You're not going to make me cry, buddy.

WINFREY: CNN, very good job hiring that Piers, I will say.


MORGAN: OK, well, that's a wrap. I would thank you, but I don't feel thankful. So that's all for tonight. You can turn into "Are You There, Chelsea" on NBC every Wednesday at 8:30.

And "AC 360" starts right now. Anderson, I have always liked you better.