Larry King Dead at 87 After COVID-19 Battle

Larry King -- the legendary TV and radio host who conducted more than 30,000 interviews in a storied 60-year career -- has died.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center early Saturday ... this, according to Ora Media, the media company Larry co-founded.

Larry was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the holidays, and was hospitalized in the ICU at one point, but had recently been moved to a regular hospital room, and was breathing on his own. Things took a turn, and King died Saturday morning.

Larry -- government name Lawrence Harvey Zeiger -- started his career in radio as a disc jockey at WAHR-AM in Miami ... after officially changing his last name to King.

His voice would ultimately land him jobs at radio stations across America before finding fame with "The Larry King Show." The nationally-syndicated late-night radio talk show debuted in 1978 across 28 cities ... and in just 5 short years the show was heard in 118 cities.

Larry's career catapulted to the big time when, in 1985, "Larry King Live" premiered on the fledgling CNN. He interviewed just about every iconic figure ... from Sir Paul McCartney, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Marlon Brando (they kissed on the lips in 1994) to Presidents Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Larry also interviewed Vladimir Putin.

Larry was a unique talent and an incredible interviewer who made his craft look effortless.  He was completely absorbed in conversations with his guests, and he did something that escapes many other interviewers -- HE LISTENED.  Larry wasn't thinking about his next question -- he was always in the moment.  And something else ... he never asked long questions just to hear himself talk.  His questions were short, and almost always on point.

The popular late-night TV show aired its last episode on December 16, 2010 ... becoming CNN's most-watched and longest-running program. But, he didn't exactly go away quietly ... Larry's one-man comedy show "Larry King: Stand Up" debuted 4 months later. He also started "Larry King Now" ... an online series that later migrated to Russian-owned news channel, RT.

Larry loved getting married almost as much as doing interviews -- he did it 8 times ... to Freda Miller (1952), Annette Kaye (1961), Alene Akins (1961), Mickey Sutphin (1963), Alene again (1967), Sharon Lepore (1976), Julie Alexander (1989) and Shawn (1997). He filed for divorce from Shawn in 2019.

02/11/20
LAST TIME WE SAW HIM ...
TMZSports.com

The last time we saw Larry was in February 2020, when he mused on the upcoming Dodgers season. The Brooklyn native and lifelong Dodgers fan watched them win their first World Series in 32 years after the COVID-shorted 2020 season.

Larry -- who published more than 20 books and had a USA Today column for decades -- coped with various ailments throughout his life ... mostly heart problems. He suffered several heart attacks and, in 1987, had quintuple bypass surgery. In fact, Larry married his most recent wife, Shawn King, at UCLA Medical Center where he was being treated for chest pains.

Larry tied the knot with Shawn just before undergoing heart surgery.

Just this past July, Larry's son Andy King, 65, unexpectedly passed away of a heart attack in late July, while his daughter Chaia King, 52, died just weeks later from lung cancer.

Larry's survived by 5 children ... Cannon, Chance, Danny, Kelly and Larry Jr. He was 87, and what an accomplished and full 87 years they were.

RIP

CNN's Sara Sidner Driven to Tears by L.A. COVID Crisis ... Breaks Down on Live TV

PLEADING TO THE PEOPLE
CNN

CNN correspondent Sara Sidner hit her breaking point while reporting live on the rising COVID-19 body count in L.A. -- she couldn't hold back her tears, showing the pandemic's emotional toll.

Sara was on Monday morning with anchor Alisyn Camerota, reporting live from Los Angeles before the sun was even up ... detailing stories from families she'd encountered at L.A.'s MLK Jr. Community Hospital, including many who'd lost loved ones to COVID.

As she was talking, Sara choked up ... and tried to start again, saying she'd been to 10 hospitals where people were being ravaged by the coronavirus. Eventually, she had to stop and sob for a bit.

Alisyn jumped in to thank Sara for her passionate coverage over the last year -- she's literally been on the ground for every major news cycle since the start of the pandemic, covering COVID, George Floyd's death, social justice protests and everything in between.

Shortly after her live shot, Sara took to Twitter to express what she was feeling. She attached a CNN story she and another reporter had worked, detailing how one woman who lost her mother to coronavirus had to hold the funeral in a chapel parking lot.

She writes, "I’m still not okay after seeing the heartbreak in the City of Angels because of #coronavirus. I know that being there to see the destruction it’s doing to families is small in comparison to the pain the families feel."

Connie Chung Working with Sawyer and Walters Was Like Tonya Harding Kneecapping Nancy Kerrigan

5:10 PM PT -- A rep for Barbara tells TMZ, "Barbara paved the way for every female journalist that came after her. She has been a tremendous supporter for all women."

Connie Chung just went scorched earth on some huge names in news ... saying working with Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer was "not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan."

Chung was on "The Originals" podcast for L.A. Magazine and dished about her time as an anchor at ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. She said, "When I got to ABC news, I joined with Both Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer there and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be great. It'll be three women who get along."

Chung says it couldn't have been further from the truth, claiming her fellow anchors big footed her out of the best interviews ... per ABC news execs.

She was famously paired with Dan Rather as co-anchors of the "CBS Evening News," and says teaming up with Rather was right out of "Psycho."

And, there's more. Connie, who's been married to Maury Povich since 1984, frequently appeared on David Letterman's show. There was a lot of chatter they were flirting with each other, although Connie says, "I had this thing for him, and he had a thing for me, and I really think it was inexplicable in that respect." But, then she went on to say, "And yet, I really didn't have a thing for him. Do you know what I mean?" Sorta.

She went on to say Dave's "a dark, unhappy sort of, I don't mean he's unhappy. He is a kvetch ... He's anti-social is what he is."

Chung also had harsh words for Hugh Grant ... she had a cameo in "The Undoing." She says, "He was not very friendly. I had interviewed him right after 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' for his next movie. So when I saw him I said, 'Oh hi. I interviewed you ... do you remember? And he said, 'No."

We reached out to reps for Dan, Diane, Barbara and Dave ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 4:59 PM PT

Meghan Markle Thank You, COVID-19 Heroes!!! Makes Surprise Appearance

A CHALLENGING YEAR
CNN

Meghan Markle's so inspired by stories of compassion she's witnessing through the pandemic, she decided to make a surprise appearance to honor those very heroes.

The Duchess of Sussex made an unscheduled appearance on CNN's 'Heroes' special Sunday night to thank "individuals (who) stood up and made sure the most basic needs of our communities were met. They made sure those around them did not have to suffer in isolation."

It's the first time Meghan has made a public statement since her op-ed in the New York Times last month, revealing she'd suffered a miscarriage in the summer. She and Prince Harry -- who left their royal roles in March -- have kept a low profile since moving to California, but still found ways to help here.

TMZ broke the story ... the couple quietly delivered quality food to needy folks back in April. Then, at the start of the school year, they dished out school supplies to students in need.

Meghan seems especially thankful to those who fed kids in need of a meal in the absence of a school lunch meal. During Sunday night's telecast she said, "When kids’ lunch programs came to a halt, we saw our neighbors make sure that those children received the nutrition they need."

Jeffrey Toobin Fired by The New Yorker ... For Zoom Meeting Exposure

Breaking News

Author and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin just got canned by The New Yorker -- the magazine where he's written for nearly 3 decades -- over his faux pas of a Zoom call.

An internal memo from Conde Nast chief Stan Duncan was sent to staffers this week, letting them know that as a result of their investigation -- Toobin was no longer affiliated with the company.

As for exactly why they fired him -- the email, posted by The Daily Beast, said Conde Nast takes these types of situations seriously, and are committed to maintaining an environment that upholds their standards.

You'll recall, Toobin was suspended by the New Yorker -- not to mention CNN -- for exposing himself on a Zoom call with New Yorker staffers as well as folks from WNYC radio. Toobin called the incident "embarrassingly stupid." He was allegedly masturbating, and insists he thought he was muted and his camera was off.

Toobin confirmed he'd gotten the axe as well, tweeting ... "I was fired today by @NewYorker after 27 years as a Staff Writer. I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work." Toobin started working for TNY in '93.

No word if CNN will be showing Toobin the door too ... stay tuned.

CNN's Joe Johns Get Outta Here, Raccoon!!! Wildlife Disrupts White House Report

RACCOON RUCKUS
@AlisynCamerota / Twitter

Frickin' raccoons, man ... they're feisty little beasts -- especially the ones in DC -- as CNN reporter Joe Johns learned while trying to report on President Trump's schedule.

The hilarious moment of levity went down early Wednesday morning on one of the White House lawns as a pesky raccoon interrupted Joe setting up for a live shot.

Joe stood his ground and yelled, "Get!!! AHHHHHH!!!!" ... trying to scare off the furry photobomber. He even threw a large object in its direction, but the raccoon kept coming.

JJ inched closer to losing his cool, and had some harsh words ... but we'll give him credit for not cursing while wearing a hot mic.

Apparently, this is an ongoing problem at 1600 Pennsylvania -- Joe later tweeted it's the second time in 2 weeks a raccoon's shown up during his morning show shift. He also dropped an important fact ... "No animals were harmed. I threw something to scare it off."

The White House these days -- if COVID doesn't get ya, the raccoons will!

Jacob Blake's Dad Convo with Biden, Harris ... Felt Like Talking to Uncle, Sister

FELT LIKE FAMILY
CNN

Jacob Blake's dad says he spoke to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for a full hour and he found it comforting because it felt like he was talking to family.

Blake's father, who's also named Jacob, says he and Blake's mother's were nervous at first to talk with the Democrats' Presidential ticket ... but says Biden and Harris calmed them down. The elder Jacob said, "I don't think people understand the worry of a mother. That's her baby."

He revealed how the conversation went down Friday morning on CNN's "New Day" ... saying it felt "like I was speaking to my uncle and one of my sisters -- literally, literally." Jacob's father added, "It felt like they knew what was going on. And, they didn't act like they were in a hurry to go anywhere. They spent time with us."

When asked if President Trump has reached out, Jacob said, "That's a negative." Trump also never mentioned Jacob Blake's name during his RNC nomination acceptance speech.

Jacob's father, who referred to Biden and Harris as President and Vice President, also touched on his son's leg being shackled to his hospital bed.

UPSETTING DETAILS
Fox 6

As we reported ... Blake's dad was furious after finding out his son was handcuffed to his hospital bed during a Wednesday visit. He questioned why that was even necessary since Jacob's paralyzed from the waist down after taking 7 shots to the back from a cop. Jacob's father said his son asked, "Why did they shoot me so many times?"

Jacob's dad pointed out ... "He can't go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?"

Jacob's parents had already gotten emotional Tuesday when the family's lawyer revealed it would be a miracle if Jacob ever walks again.

Bubba Wallace Rope Photo Revealed ... Definitely a Noose

Breaking News

NASCAR has released a photo of the rope found in Bubba Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday ... and yeah, THAT'S A NOOSE.

Of course, NASCAR has said the rope had been fashioned into a noose by an unknown person back in October 2019. Investigators determined it was NOT made as a specific threat to Wallace, who is Black.

The FBI -- which also worked the case -- says their agents have also determined Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime.

NASCAR says the item is a garage pull rope. Wallace says he's raced out of hundreds of garages in his life and has never seen one fashioned as a noose until Talladega.

In fact, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said Thursday his organization thoroughly searched all 29 NASCAR tracks -- which includes 1,684 garage stalls -- and only ONE of the ropes was fashioned into a noose: "the one discovered Sunday in the No. 43 [Bubba Wallace] garage stall."

Phelps added, “As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba."

He added, "With similar emotion, others across our industry and our media stood up to defend the NASCAR family. Our NASCAR family. Because they are part of the NASCAR family, too. We are proud to see so many stand up for what’s right.”

Earlier this week, Bubba praised the FBI and NASCAR for "acting swiftly and treating this as a real threat."

"I think we’ll gladly take a little embarrassment over what the alternatives could have been," Wallace added.

Bubba admits he's had an emotional few days but he's relieved "that the investigation revealed that this wasn’t what we feared it was."

"Make no mistake, though some will try, this should not detract from the show of unity we had on Monday, and the progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all."

After the results of the investigation were made public, Wallace spoke with CNN's Don Lemon about the backlash he had been receiving --  saying, "I'm mad because people are trying to test my character."

"The image that I have and I have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull. I've been racing all my life, we've raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that."

"It was a noose," Wallace continued ... "whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose."

"So, it wasn't directed at me but somebody tied a noose. That's what I'm saying."

Wallace says he's still very grateful to NASCAR for supporting him -- and now feels more motivated than ever to win.

"This will not break me. None of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down."

"It will piss me off, absolutely. But, that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up."

Dave Chappelle Rips Don Lemon in New Special on George Floyd ... Don Responds

Dave Chappelle responded to Don Lemon's call for celebs to speak out on the death of George Floyd in a big way ... tearing into the CNN anchor on a surprise special he dropped early Friday morning.

Netflix released the Chappelle special on its YouTube comedy channel, and it's all about Dave addressing Floyd's killing by police and the ensuing protests to end racism and police brutality.

Chappelle also blasted Lemon for urging celebrities to use their platforms to talk about Floyd and the national unrest his death caused ... saying people don't need or want to hear from celebs right now. As only Dave could put it ... "Do we give a f**k what Ja Rule thinks?!"

He added ... the streets are speaking for themselves, and he isn't about to get in the way of trying to speak over that. Fittingly, the special is titled "8:46" ... the length of time accused murderer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on George's neck.

The surprise stand-up special was filmed outside on June 6 in Beavercreek, Ohio, in front of a masked, socially-distanced audience, and it's a lot less comedy than usual for Dave ... and more powerful commentary.

If you're wondering... Don's seen it, and he isn't pissed.

I WELCOME THE CRITICISM
CNN

Friday morning, Lemon said he's honored to be mentioned by his favorite comedian and even jokes his nieces and nephews will think he's cool now, but also concedes that Dave makes a good point ... a lot of people don't care about celebrities' opinions.

Don says he welcomes Chappelle's criticism and encourages it because it brings more attention to the topic, and still thinks it's important for people like Dave and himself to use their large audience to spread that message.

BTW -- Lemon's not the only media personality Chappelle takes aim at in his special ... he has a lot more to say about Candace Owens and Laura Ingraham.

Minneapolis Riots CNN Reporter Busted Live On Air!!!

ARRESTED ON AIR
CNN

Drop the mic, you're going to jail.

That's exactly what happened to CNN reporter Omar Jimenez right in the middle of covering the Minneapolis riots over George Floyd's killing ... but the cops are now saying, oops.

Jimenez was live on the air, just after 5 AM Central Time, when 2 Minnesota State Police officers in riot gear took the mic out of his hands, placed zip ties around his wrists and took him into custody.

At the time, he was standing on the mostly empty street in front of Minneapolis PD's 3rd Precinct which went up in flames Thursday night. State troopers had just arrived on the scene to clear the area, and you could hear Jimenez clearly identify himself as a CNN reporter ... and he also said he and his crew would move wherever cops needed them to go.

5/28/20
SET ABLAZE
CNN

The cops weren't in the mood to talk, clearly, and arrested Jimenez and his crew -- but a couple hours later, they were released.

The Minnesota State Patrol says 3 CNN staffers were arrested because officers were "clearing the streets and restoring order." They say all 3 were released "once they were confirmed to be members of the media."

The irony here is pretty obvious -- a black reporter gets arrested while covering riots sparked by the fact a police officer has NOT been arrested for killing a black man, on camera.

CNN's pissed because Jimenez and his crew identified themselves as media while ON THE AIR, mind you. The network says Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had to step in to expedite the release of their staffers.

It's getting heavy.

Van Jones Black Community Dodging Bullets Also Fighting Virus, Poverty

Exclusive
THERE'S ALWAYS A THREAT
TMZ.com

Van Jones says while America's now coping with a pandemic, black America's been battling epidemic violence, poverty and disease long before coronavirus came along.

The Reform Alliance CEO was on "TMZ Live" Friday to talk about his CNN special, "The Color of Covid" -- and he didn't mince words when describing the challenges facing many minority communities.

Van says there's always been an epidemic of death in neighborhoods of color. He says, "You’re worried about invisible bullets from the virus? We've been dodging real bullets the whole time." He says that mentality explains the recent massive crowds gathered for parties in Atlanta and Chicago.

Black and Latino communities also face different health risks as the nation reopens, due to underlying health problems that have gone unchecked for years. As Van, and many doctors, point out ... hypertension, heart disease and diabetes immediately put you in the at-risk category for COVID-19. Of course, staying home only creates economic hardship.

Van says the federal government needs a better battle plan, one that offers better medical AND economic stimuli to people of color.

As for the $3 trillion stimulus package already passed ... he says it's missed the mark with the people who need it most. Van and Don Lemon will be tackling these issues, and others, Friday night (10 PM ET) on CNN.

Rob Manfred MLB Owners Could Lose $4 BILLION ... If 2020 Season Canceled

Breaking News

Rob Manfred says owners could lose $4 BILLION if the MLB is forced to cancel its 2020 season due to coronavirus ... claiming the economic fallout would be "devastating."

"We’re a big business, but we’re a seasonal business and, unfortunately, this crisis began at the low point for us in terms of revenue," the league commish told CNN on Thursday.

"We hadn’t quite started our season yet and if we don’t play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."

Manfred says he and his staff are working tirelessly to figure out a way to avoid that possibility ... revealing to Anderson Cooper that they've come up with an 80-page protocol to keep players safe in a return scenario.

Manfred says the league is eyeing "frequent testing," quarantine plans for those who contract the virus and safety measurements like fan-less games to ensure players' health is the top priority if a comeback happens.

The problem? There's a disagreement right now between MLB owners and players over whether or not players should take a pay cut in a return to the diamond.

IT'S MY MONEY

Rays ace Blake Snell blasted the notion this week ("For me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof") and several MLB stars have since backed the 27-year-old.

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper said on his Twitch stream Thursday, "He's speaking the truth, bro. I ain't mad at him."

Rockies megastar Nolan Arenado added, per The Athletic, "He made a lot of good points. There are some points he made that were true, that are facts."

Still, Manfred says he's optimistic they can all come to an agreement ... still eyeing "the first half of July" as a possible starting date for the '20 season.

Anderson Cooper I'm A New Dad!!!

Anderson Cooper is the proud new father of a baby boy ... revealing Wyatt Morgan Cooper to the world.

The CNN anchor took to Instagram Thursday night to reveal earlier this week Wyatt was born via surrogate. Cooper said, "As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth."

As for Wyatt's name, the 52-year-old says it's in honor of his dad, who passed away when he was just 10, saying, "I hope I can be as good a dad as he was."

Anderson also shared a sweet message about his surrogate, saying, "Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him. It is an extraordinary blessing - what she, and all surrogates give to families who can't have children."

Finally, Anderson says, "I do wish my mom and dad and my brother, Carter, were alive to meet Wyatt, but I like to believe they can see him. I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues."

His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, died last year.

Wyatt is Anderson's first child ... congrats!!

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