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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX TUE JAN 15 2001 11:28:09 ET XXXXX
CNN STAFF RAGE OVER KING INFLATED SALARY FIGURE; NEW CONTRACT DOLLARS HALF OF REPORTED
CNN insiders are furious with the network's toptalker Larry King after salary rates for his pending new contract were grossly inflated in a press leak designed to rock Broadcast Row.
CNN has signed King "for four more years at an annual salary of $14 million," reported the NEW YORK POST and columnist Liz Smith on Tuesday.
CNN staffers, familiar with the negotiations, read the POST report in shock.
"What the hell is going on here?! The new deal only gives Larry $7 million a year," said a stunned insider.
"This is a fantasy! Liz Smith needs to ask Larry for a photocopy of the deal. Her blond hair will turn red!"
Behind the scenes, King is being directly accused of grossly exaggerating the offer made by CNN.
CNN head Walter Isaacson was in shock after seeing the inflated King numbers, say sources.
"Among the perks the 68-year-old King won for staying at the AOL Time Warner-owned network are the use of a private plane," reported Smith.
But insiders say that King asked for "unlimited use" of a private jet -- a request that was rejected outright.
"He wanted total access, he is not getting that," said a source.
The pressure has been on for veteran King, who recently said he "had one big contract left" in him.
With rates paid for on-air talent soaring to new LimbaughCouric heights, King, in the end, found he could not keep up with the pace.
"He's topped out at $7 million," said a top insider. "It's a fine increase from his current salary. But let's just leave it at that."
Filed By Matt Drudge
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