Everyone's an equal here and gets a say. But King appears first among equals. His buddies tell me his two young sons from his seventh marriage, Chance and Cannon (named for Canon Drive), "are fantastic athletes." When I suggest King has a good memory, Sid tells me, yes, it's "amazing." When I laugh at one of King's cornball jokes, former Friars chief Schaeffer says, "He's very, very funny."
Thinking of the last shows at CNN, Sid Young — the veritable capo régime, seemingly always at King's side — declares, "He's gonna miss it." According to another Nate 'n Al regular, King's wife Shawn quipped she would have to get him a paper route to keep him out from under foot.
But there's plenty of planning still left to do. After the last show, the whole gang will take over Spago for a blowout party. King's favorite waitresses from Nate 'n Al will be there. So, of course, will all the fellas.
As for the final show? King hopes to close things out with the man who gave him his first CNN interview back in 1985 — Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York and father of governor-elect Andrew Cuomo.
Only there's a glitch: Cuomo had signed on, until he felt Eliot Spitzer, another former New York governor and now CNN talk host, insulted his son.
"I don't know what he said," King said, "but [Mario] Cuomo calls up CNN and says, 'I will never go on CNN, because Spitzer is on there.'" King has tried everything to make it right. He has left messages. His brother has called. So has one of the guys who knows the Cuomos.
"The Italian core. It's a family thing," King says. "I can't believe it."
He's still trying to get Cuomo to relent. But enough about hang-ups, King says, turning back to the group, determined to keep the conversation going.
"Sometimes we solve things," he tells me. "Last week it was Iran. We fixed Iran.... Sowassitgonnabe today?"