EXCLUSIVE: Piers Morgan’s last day hosting Piers Morgan Live will be March 28, after which CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker is going to try out Michael Smerconish as well as Jake Tapper, Bill Weir, and Don Lemon in the time slot for a few weeks, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Deadline. We will actually see Weir fill in for Morgan in the time slot first, next week, but it will be just that — he’s filling in on Morgan’s show while Morgan takes a previously scheduled vacation, and he will return for one final week after that. Morgan and Zucker continue to talk about a future role for him at the network, the source said.
Morgan struggled for three years to find an audience in the important time slot, taking over for Larry King who’d been a longtime fixture at the network. Morgan was routinely beaten in the ratings by his cable competitors. His departure probably means the end of the time slot’s format — do not expect the four men to do the kind of show Morgan did, or King before him. Smerconish, Tapper and Lemon will continue to do the type of programs they’re already doing at CNN. And, the list may not be complete — Zucker may try out more talent in the slot, the source said. (more…)