Morning Cuppa: Piers Morgan Talks Talk (and Susan Boyle...and George W. Bush)
Tonight's cuppa: decaf Mystic Monk coffee
It's been a long day, both for General Motors and everyone associated with it, and for British singing sensation Susan Boyle. Since my last post with judge Piers Morgan in conjunction with Boyle's runner-up result on "Britain's Got Talent," the overnight superstar apparently had a meltdown and sought refuge and help.
Morgan, who seems to have a soft spot for Boyle, has been talking about her difficulties, including an appearance on "Extra," which released some of his comments earlier today.
Glad to see that Morgan appears to be in Boyle's corner. Can't imagine the whirlwind this poor woman has endured. I hope she recovers, first for her sake, and second, for ours, so we can hear her sing again.
But, speaking of Morgan, when I talked to him in April, we also explored his plans for the future.
Before he became a reality-show judge and a contestant -- on the first season of "Celebrity Apprentice," which he won -- Morgan was the editor of two British tabloid newspapers, "News of the World" (1994-'95) and the "Daily Mirror" (1994-2004).
Now he wants to be host of very own talk show in America, a follow-up to his ITV show in Britain, "Piers Morgan's Life Stories," which launched in February with guest Sharon Osbourne (Morgan's fellow judge on "America's Got Talent.")
"I've just done it in Britain," he said. "It was a big hit. They've ordered 12 more for next year, and I'm talking to NBC about doing a similar thing here. It's not so much a talk show as me hanging out with very, very famous people and doing an extended interview."
That sort of extended interview format is often associated with British satirist and journalist Sir David Frost, and continues today on American TV, most notably with PBS' "Charlie Rose" and the occasional Barbara Walters special on ABC. But most of today's interviews are of the hit-and-oops-we're-coming-up-to-a-hard-break type, short and pithy.
Morgan has a slightly different philosophy.
"First of all," he said, "you've got to get your target to be at ease, so you have to have a bit of a laugh. Laughter and humor are always my key weapons for interviews.
"I don't want people to come out badly. I don't want them to feel they're either being betrayed or victimized, or that I've been too bullying. But I also like to be slightly confrontational, so there's a chance for them to show all aspects of their personal characteristics.
"I want to see if they're feisty; I want to see if they've got a temper. I want to see if they've got a soul, a heart, a sense of humor. I want to get all those things out of them through a two-hour interview.
"We're in a real saccharine generation, where everyone's being too protective for too long, and it actually makes them boring."
While Morgan isn't eager to put someone on the defensive, he also doesn't want to merely pelt them with marshmallow questions.
"I don't want people being uncomfortable watching," he said. "But I want it to be quite edgy in parts and funny in others and very warm and soulful in others. But I also want to get a feeling that, by the end of it, we really understand that person -- good, bad and ugly.
"Not everyone will do it. Some of them are too cowardly. The smart ones, the clever ones, the Schwarzenggers, the Trumps, the Cowells, the people like that, they enjoy it. They enjoy the combat, knowing that it's actually good-natured combat."
But sometimes, Morgan gets the tables turned on him.
"You get it more in Britain, actually, the stick shot," he said, "People come to me. normally women fluttering their eyelashes, flattering me, pouring me drinks. They say how much they loved me, loved all my books, love my TV, love my newspaper, and by the end of it, I'm so completely suffused with joy and their love for me, that I forget that what they're doing is carving me up like a kipper.
"When I read the interview, it's like, 'This is the most boring, stupid man alive.' I'm like, ''Thank you, moving on.'
"You don't really have that in America. You're a lot nicer over here. It is true. British papers are just barbaric. I was part of it, so I can't complain. I used to unleash my pack dogs onto people, and now they do it to me. It's good. That's how it should be."
But, It's not that Morgan doesn't have his own way to shake up a subject.
"I call it the 'good in bed' technique," he said. "I'll ask them, at some stage of every interview, if they're good in bed. Because it's a question that nobody in the world would possibly dare ask, and it always gets a great response.
"They're shocked, appalled, angry, or they say, 'Absolutely. Yep, I'm brilliant!'"
Asked if he calls anyone to confirm this assertion, Morgan said, "Totally, yeah."
He's got a wishlist of interviewees for a possible NBC show, including Britney Spears and Sir Paul McCartney, along with "someone like Obama, if he was available. It might appeal to them to do something different, do an interview with a Brit."
David Frost is perhaps best known in America for his probing and explosive series of interviews with former U.S. president Richard Nixon, which later were adapted into a play and a recent movie, called "Frost/Nixon."
As to which personality would be the Nixon to his Frost, Morgan said, "George W. Bush. That would be a pretty amazing interview. Love to do George Bush.
"I've got quite strong views about him, as Europeans have, but I've also heard from people like (former Prime Minister) Tony Blair and his people that Bush is a lot smarter than people think, and a lot more principled than people think, so it would be an interesting conversation."