It is hard to imagine Larry King retiring. Sitting in that chair night after night, having a one on one conversation in front of an international audience is what he lives for. "Retire? Why should I retire? I have the best job in the world," he has told me whenever I broached the subject of him stepping down from his coveted nightly time slot on CNN. I respect his announced change of heart and wish him only the best.
Larry is a colleague and a mentor, and I owe him a great deal, personally and professionally. I have been lucky to have been a guest on his show more than 100 times and I have sat in for him on almost three dozen occasion during my tenure at CNN and in the years since. He is gracious and always supportive, but be careful whenever you talk to him -- because he listens. And he remembers.
In 1995, I was the main anchor for CNN's marathon coverage of the OJ Simpson criminal trial. This was an almost blissful era in television, before a cacophony of talking heads flooded the nightly airwaves, and before MSNBC or Fox News were even in business. CNN was the network of record for that trial and the ratings were record-setting.
As a regular guest and frequent guest host on Larry's program, we often spoke before each show, mostly small talk in the make-up room. One particular evening, I was telling him how coincidental it was that I actually owned size 12 Bruno Magli shoes. That particular manufacturer and size was the focal point of the early days of the trial, since the killer of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman left a bloody footprint at the scene identified as being made by just such a shoe. Mine, were of course, not the "ugly-ass" model OJ disavowed ever owning, but they were Bruno Magli's, nonetheless.
"You have size 12 Bruno Magli's?", he said as he sat upright with a jolt. I suddenly had Larry's complete attention.
"Yes," I said almost sheepishly, adding, "And I was at the dance recital that day too. My daughter and OJ's daughter were in the same school." Earlier the day of the double murders OJ was seen at the school's annual performance, growing visibly upset after being rebuffed by his ex-wife. Prosecutors claimed Simpson's behavior demonstrated his motive for the horrific slayings hours later.
Our conversation ended and we both walked into the studio, as I was once again scheduled to be a guest on Larry's show. That night, I was seated alongside a law school professor, invited to explain that day's developments in court. The show had barely begun when Larry asked my fellow panelist, "Professor, what is the significance of these size 12 Bruno Magli shoes?"
The professor answered, "Well, it is a very exclusive brand owned by a small number of people, and the specific size narrows that group even more."
"Wait 'til you hear Moret's answer," Larry said as he turned to me, with a broad grin.
The blood quickly drained from my face. I had no choice but to respond as we were on live television. "Larry, you know I have a pair of size 12 Bruno Magli's. I told you about them just a few minutes ago."
"You? You have size 12 Bruno Magli's? Where were you the day of the murders?", his voice rose as he pointed his finger across the desk in my direction.
Trying to remain calm, I responded, "Larry, as I told you, I was at the dance recital with OJ because our daughters were in the same school."
"You -- Jim Moret -- have size 12 Bruno Magli's and you were at the dance recital the day of the murders?
"Yes." (seeing my professional life flashing before my eyes)
Larry turned directly to camera. "Marcia Clark!" (referring to the lead prosecutor in the Simpson case) "If you are watching -- we have another suspect! It's Jim Moret! (pause) We'll be back after this."
After the show ended, and I had a chance to regain my bearings and my composure, I went up to Larry and asked "Larry -- I am a lawyer and the main anchor for all the network's coverage of this trial. Why did you bring that up on the air?"
Without a beat and showing neither malice nor guile, but rather almost a childlike amusement, Larry looked at me and said two words -- with a smile.
I guess it was.
So to you, Larry, my friend, let me be among the first to thank you for 25 years of great shows.
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