A Gayle King- Charles Barkley talk show on CNN is looking more like a reality by the day, sources told The Post.
King, who co-hosts “CBS Mornings,” is carving out a contract with her current employer so that she can take the CNN gig but a source close to the situation said CBS is “dragging its feet.”
“No one expects a deal to be finalized right away,” the source said, noting that it is taking some time to reach an agreement. It is unclear however, what the hold up is.
CNN boss Chris Licht is “optimistic” that King and Barkley will both be on board to host a show this fall, the source added.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that CNN is “finalizing” King’s deal but insiders cautioned a deal won’t be inked for several weeks.
CBS did not comment. King did not respond to requests for comment.
Barkley, who has a massive deal with TNT to co-host Inside the NBA, will likely have an easier time with his contract, as TNT is the sister network of CNN, which are both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.
It is unclear where Barkley’s contract stands, but he recently told The Post that he was considering a show “out of respect for Gayle King” and that he wanted to help the company.
Barkley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
CNN did not comment.
Source told The Post that CNN CEO Chris Licht is on the hunt for other big names to fill the 9 pm and 10 pm slots in order to boost the network’s slumping ratings. The network is targeting the fall to launch the new programs.
Industry sources said Licht will likely put big names like King and Barkley on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, noting that the network does not want to put its best talent against ratings rainmakers Rachel Maddow, who hosts MSNBC’s 9 pm hour on Mondays, or Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who hosts the top-rated show weekdays during the timeslot.
A source said the 9 pm hour will likely be used for weekly shows like the King-Barkley program, while the 10 pm hour will be designated for a full-time host.
Media sources have speculated that CNN was in talks with buzzy names like “Daily Show” alums Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah.
An insider said that while CNN has approached both, neither host will grace the ratings-challenged network. But the source did note that CNN is in talks with comedic talent of that “caliber.”
Licht has been scrambling to rejigger the network’s primetime and daytime lineups amid sinking ratings.
According to Nielsen data, CNN averaged 535,000 primetime viewers for the first quarter as of March 24, marking a 35% decline from a year ago and its lowest quarterly ratings average since 2015.
This month, CNN is set to post its lowest monthly rating in at least three decades among viewers aged 25 to 54, a coveted demographic for advertisers.
So far, Licht, who joined CNN last May, has struggled to create a hit at the network. He experimented with putting anchor Jake Tapper in primetime, but the show flailed and Tapper moved back to his regular 4 pm slot.
Licht also tried to reinvigorate CNN’s morning show by renaming the program, “CNN This Morning,” and rehauling its anchor lineup to include Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
But the show’s ratings have sunk deeper into last place amid a slew of bad press for Lemon, who infamously put his foot in his mouth last month by claiming GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was not “in her prime,” which not only upset co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collin but ignited a firestorm of criticism that led to Lemon publicly apologizing and being sent to “formal training.”