|FROM UNIVERSAL UCLICK
TUNE IN TONIGHT by Kevin McDonough
'PIERS MORGAN LIVE' DIES
-- Tonight brings us the final broadcast of "Piers Morgan Live" (9 p.m., CNN). I could make an obvious joke, like "Piers Morgan Dead"! But I prefer to begin this autopsy with a simple question: Hey, CNN. What took you so long?
Review television long enough and you're never surprised when shows get canceled. Instead, you wonder why they stayed on so long, or ever aired at all.
The soon-to-expire "Piers Morgan Live" is a good example. CNN is reportedly a news network. Did Piers Morgan's show ever make news? If it did, it certainly wasn't on the level of his predecessor. While Larry King enjoyed rambling, discursive interviews with vintage celebrities like Martha Raye, he did offer the occasional serious guest. Heck, his show all but launched the third-party candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992. But, as they say, that was another century and a long time ago -- a time when CNN still mattered.
Morgan's competitor, Megan Kelly of Fox News, knows how to make news. She certainly knew that her comments on "The Kelly File" last December, declaring that Santa Claus and Jesus were indisputably "white," would make headlines, and that Fox News' well-cultivated audience would relish such remarks. Kelly's comments may have been pointless, hurtful, stupid and bigoted, but at least she demonstrated a keen awareness of just who watches her show and her network.
Can the same be said of Morgan? "Piers Morgan Live" did not have much of an audience for the simple fact that Morgan was neither likable nor interesting. Why did this foreign journalist, deeply loathed in his home country for his place in the U.K. phone-hacking scandal, have a prime-time perch on an American network? Why did he have a job at all?
The same could be said of Morgan's boss, CNN chief Jeff Zucker, whose role in taking NBC from first place to the cellar is the stuff of TV history and legend. It took years (and a merger) for NBC Universal to finally rid itself of Zucker. How, after all, do you thank someone who takes you from "Seinfeld" to five nights of "The Jay Leno Show" in prime time?
In allowing the unliked, unwatched and scandal-plagued Morgan to be the face of CNN for years, Zucker has proved that he still has his reverse Midas touch.
Why does Jeff Zucker still have a job?
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
-- The scheduled Sweet 16 games of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament include: Tennessee vs. Michigan (7 p.m., CBS); Connecticut vs. Iowa State (7:15 p.m., TBS); Kentucky vs. Louisville (9:30, CBS); and Michigan State vs. Virginia (9:55 p.m., TBS).
-- Keegan litigates a conflict between a pimp and a violent Hollywood agent on "Rake" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
-- The past seven days in review on "Charlie Rose: The Week" (8:30 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
-- Crash-test dummy duty on "Enlisted" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
-- Burt and Virginia want to fill their empty nest with a needy dog on "Raising Hope" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
-- Two killer cases converge on "Hannibal" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
-- Alan has the world on his shoulders as he takes on The Scythe in the season finale of "Helix" (10 p.m., Syfy, TV-PG).
At the pinnacle of his sitcom success, Bill Cosby appeared in the 1987 spy comedy "Leonard Part 6" (8 p.m., This TV), a movie so unfunny and so poorly received that Cosby and director Paul Weiland largely disowned it and blamed each other for its failure.
Two hours of "Dateline NBC" (8 p.m.) ... Mandy's career comes into focus on "Last Man Standing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Two episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., r, CW, TV-14) ... Bowling league politics boil over on "The Neighbors" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
A big-league approach to baby back ribs on "Shark Tank" (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... Joel's new hires aren't up to the task on "Hart of Dixie" (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... "20/20" (10 p.m., ABC).
Shaun White, April Richardson, Nicole Byer and Brad Wollack appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r) ... Hulk Hogan, Stephen A. Smith and Terrio are booked on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (syndicated, check local listings) ... Michael Keaton and Phantogram appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes January Jones, Josh Holloway and Passenger on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC) is a rerun.
Craig Ferguson hosts Meredith Vieira and Josh Radnor on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
(Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.)
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